(OXFORD, Miss.) – Something “old” officially becomes something new April 1 as the University of Mississippi School of Engineering celebrates 110 years of service to higher education.
The Old Chemistry Building is being renamed Brevard Hall in honor of 1943 alumnus Henry Brevard and his family, whose donations helped pay for its renovation. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and is open to the public.
“The Ole Miss School of Engineering is at a cusp of opportunity that can create a quadruple convergence of students, faculty, alumni and friends, and facilities,” said Alex Cheng, dean of the engineering school. “These convergences of positive forces may be unprecedented and transform the school into a great engineering school to serve the state and nation.”
Other anniversary events include a barbecue and blues music concert, which starts at 11:30 a.m. in Lyceum Circle; an open house, which commences at 1:30 p.m. in all engineering departments; and the annual Excellence in Engineering reception and banquet, which begins at 6:45 p.m. at the Inn at Ole Miss and honors outstanding students, faculty and alumni.
Before there were Carrier or Anderson halls, Brevard spent much of his time studying and learning the discipline of engineering in what was referred to as the Old Chemistry Building. At that time, the engineering school was housed primarily in the north wing of the Lyceum.
After graduating and spending time in service to his country, Brevard and his father-in-law, Riley Boozer, determined that ready-mix concrete strategically would be the future of their business and founded B&B Concrete in 1949. More than 70 years later, the company is one of north Mississippi’s strongest businesses and remains committed to a set of core principles. David Brevard, Henry’s son and a 1978 Ole Miss honors graduate, is chief executive officer of B&B. He continues to work closely with the engineering school on scholarship planning and civil engineering student training.
Henry and David Brevard have remained exceptionally committed to Ole Miss. Henry Brevard is past president of the University of Mississippi Foundation, past president of the Engineering Alumni Chapter, past chairman of the School of Engineering Advisory Board and past chairman of the engineering school’s Woods Order. He was named Engineer of Distinction in 1987 and was inducted into the University of Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame in 1988. David Brevard served as president of the Alumni Association for 1999-2000.
“Mr. Brevard and his family’s commitment to Ole Miss and, specifically, engineering is extensive,” said Joshua Waggoner, engineering school development officer. “He was one of the first members of the Woods Order, a giving program established in the 1970s to specifically support engineering student activities.”
In 1991, Brevard committed $1 million to endow the Brevard Family Scholarship program, which has allowed more than 500 students to attend Ole Miss. Since then, the Brevard family has made additional significant contributions each year to the engineering school, their scholarship program and other efforts on campus.
“We feel the Ole Miss School of Engineering has made excellent progress over the past few decades and is poised to make even greater progress in coming years,” Brevard said. “We have always thought that our scholarship endowment was important to help the school increase the caliber of our already gifted student body and to help increase enrollment to a point of more efficiency per student, considering the funding available. Our second purpose has been to make engineering education possible for deserving and talented students who might otherwise not have the means necessary for that pursuit.”
Two former administrators reflected upon their tenures as deans of the engineering school.
“The School of Engineering is blessed with an outstanding faculty and bright students,” said Kai Fong Lee, immediate past dean and an electrical engineering professor. “With the new engineering complex becoming a reality and a dedicated leadership team, the school is on course to realize its vision of becoming one of the best engineering schools in the South.”
“Thanks to people like Henry Brevard, the School of Engineering seems like it is really headed in the right direction,” said Allie M. Smith, who served as engineering school dean for 21 of his 28 years on the UM faculty. “I had a very enjoyable time while there, and see things only getting better and better as the years go by.”
Construction of the new Center for Manufacturing Excellence and the renovation of Brevard and Carrier halls creates more learning space and opportunity for students, said Engineering Student Body president Ryan Jones.
“With the multiple manufacturing programs that we have added and the increased numbers in enrollment, our school is rapidly moving to the next level,” said the junior electrical engineering major from Jackson. “I feel comfortable in saying that the Ole Miss School of Engineering will never stop improving, and I look forward to seeing what the years to come hold.”
Engineering faculty agree with Jones’ assessment.
“The School of Engineering has consistently graduated people who go out to be leaders in industry,” said John O’Haver, associate dean, director of the Center for Math and Science Education and chemical engineering professor. “"With rapidly growing enrollment, we will have to work to keep the ‘personal touch’ that we have always had. But I am confident that we will continue to graduate leaders, ones who will positively impact our profession and our world.”
O’Haver’s confidence in the future was echoed by Jones.
“Choosing Ole Miss to pursue engineering was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made, and definitely the best,” Jones said. “As I finish my third year and the school begins its 110th, I can say that this institution has really lived up to their motto of ‘We see the engineer in you.’ My experience as an engineering student at Ole Miss could not have been better.”
The Ole Miss School of Engineering has 882 undergraduates and 156 graduate students enrolled. Forty-six faculty members are tenured, and research expenditures totaled $10.2 million in 2010. Entering freshmen have an average ACT score of 24.3. Ninety-seven bachelor’s degrees in engineering were awarded in 2010, compared to 16 engineering degrees awarded between 1900 and 1906.
The Old Chemistry Building was built in 1920, the Charles E. Smith Engineering Science Building was built in 1938, Carrier Hall constructed in 1954 and Anderson Hall dedicated in 1974.
Besides Cheng, Lee and Smith, former deans and acting deans of the school include James Vaughan, Karl Brenkert, Frederick Kellogg, Lee Johnson, Andrew Broadus Hargis, John Hazard Dorrah, Walter Hugh Drane and Alfred Hume.
Notable engineering school graduates include Jess Woods (first Rhodes Scholar), Joseph Cerny (first Fulbright Scholar), Barbara Kerr Beckman (first woman engineering graduate), Edgar Lee Caples (first African-American engineering graduate), Steven Hester (first Goldwater Scholar) and William "Bill" Parsons (former director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center).
For more information about the 110th School of Engineering celebration, go to http://www.engineering.olemiss.edu/SaveTheDate/.