OSU Receives $3 Million Gift For College of Engineering

Story Posted: 9/12/2003

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By Gregg Kleiner, 541-737-9684
SOURCES: Andrew C. Klein, 541-737-2344; José Reyes, 541-737-7065

Mechanical Engineering alumnus Hank Schuette and his wife Janice established an endowed chair in the Dept. of Nuclear Engineering & Radiation Health Physics, occupied by professor José Reyes.
CORVALLIS, Ore. - The College of Engineering at Oregon State University has received a $3 million gift from a mechanical engineering alumnus and his wife that will establish the first endowed chair in the Department of Nuclear Engineering & Radiation Health Physics.

The gift, the largest ever received by the department, was given by Hank and Janice Schuette, who together, built Sherwood, Ore.-based Wellons, Inc. into an international leader in the design, manufacture and installation of energy systems that turn waste wood from the lumber industry into electricity.

"The Schuette's vision and generosity allow us to honor one of our department's outstanding faculty members and enable us to extend our research and educational activities," said Andrew C. Klein, head of the Dept. of Nuclear Engineering & Radiation Health Physics. "The Schuettes are truly wonderful and exciting people to have closely associated with the department. Their outstanding gift helps make it possible for Oregon State University to remain one of the top departments of nuclear engineering and radiation health physics in the U.S. "

The new Henry W. and Janice J. Schuette Chair in Nuclear Engineering & Radiation Health Physics will be filled by OSU's José Reyes, who, in less than a decade at the university, leveraged an initial $4,000 research grant into more than $13 million in additional research funding for the department.

 

OSU Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics professor, José Reyes.

Reyes's research is part of the reason his department at OSU is currently among the best in the nation. The gift will enable Reyes to expand his cutting-edge research and teaching that is leading to safer "passive" nuclear reactors and the use of MRI technology to track toxins in environmental cleanup and other industrial applications.

"I'm very grateful to the Schuettes for their generosity and support," said Reyes, who was just appointed by the United Nations as director of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Coordinated Research Program for a six-nation study on passive nuclear energy systems . "They are helping Oregon State University build an outstanding engineering program."

It was Reyes' high-profile research and international reputation that helped move the Schuettes to make such a large gift.

"When I left OSU, there was no nuclear engineering department because the industry was very young," Hank Schuette said. "But throughout my years, I have observed the work OSU has been doing in nuclear engineering. Because future energy demands might very well be met by nuclear power, I've always thought it was an area we should be working on, a field where we should be ahead of the curve by gaining more and more knowledge about it. José Reyes, Andy Klein and others at OSU are doing exactly this and have developed a great department. So Janice and I thought that if we could help in some small way to advance the knowledge of nuclear energy and the education of the people working in the field, that would be a good investment."

This gift is a significant boost to OSU's $180-million Top-25 Engineering Campaign, which seeks to fund additional new endowed chairs, innovate engineering education, and bring top students and faculty to the college of engineering. Endowed chairs are highly effective tools for retaining and recruiting top faculty, and the Schuettes hope their gift will inspire others to fund more endowed chairs in the college.

"We hope others will be inspired to fall in line and lend their names to new endowed chairs," Hank said. "It's an excellent investment in Oregon State and the future."

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