$7 Million Gift to Support Chairs, Fellowships and Student Aid For Pratt School of Engineering
DURHAM, N.C. - The son of former Duke University engineering professor William Henry "Nick" Gardner Jr. is giving $7 million in his father's honor to Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, President Nannerl O. Keohane announced Saturday.
Alston Gardner of Atlanta made the gift to endow two professorships and eight graduate fellowships, all named for his father. The gift, which also will provide undergraduate financial aid, was announced at a surprise recognition event for Nick Gardner.
The elder Gardner is the former president and current vice president of the civil engineering firm Gardner & McDaniel, P.A. of Durham. He graduated from Duke in 1945 with a degree in civil engineering and returned to his alma mater in 1953 to teach for a decade. He also was head engineer for many Duke buildings constructed during and after that period.
"Nick Gardner's contributions to his profession and to his alma mater are many and varied," Keohane said. "Nick's career exemplifies the service to society that our engineering graduates provide; his work on some of Duke's most important buildings provides ample testimony to his enduring skills. Alston Gardner's generous endowment gift in Nick's honor recognizes his father's many accomplishments and helps ensure that the school Nick loves so well will continue to support future generations of outstanding engineering students and faculty."
Alston Gardner was the founder and chief executive officer of OnTarget Inc., a global professional services firm, that was acquired in 1999 by Siebel Systems Inc., a management software developer. Gardner is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has attended the executive programs at Harvard Business School, Stanford University and the University of Virginia.
"My father wanted each of his children to build a bright future when we were growing up, and he did everything in his power to make that happen," the younger Gardner said. "I am thrilled now to recognize him and the commitment he made to our family, our community and many others who had the privilege of learning from and working with him."
Keohane said the gift will create endowments to support four areas:
$2 million to establish the W.H. Gardner Jr. Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering;
$750,000, matched with $250,000 from the Bass Program for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, to support the W.H. Gardner Jr. Associate Professorship;
$4 million to fund eight graduate fellowships, to be known as the W.H. Gardner Jr. Society of Engineering Fellows, across the school's four departments;
$250,000, matched with funds from The Duke Endowment Scholarship Challenge for North and South Carolina students, will create the W.H. Gardner Jr. Scholarship Fund to provide need-based financial assistance for Duke engineering undergraduates from the Carolinas. The Duke Endowment is a charitable trust based in Charlotte.
Nick Gardner was born in Edenton in 1925. He transferred to Duke's engineering school after a year at North Carolina State University. His wife, Mary Louise Powe Gardner, is a native of Durham who attended Duke before graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1949. They have three children: Alston, Mark Badham Gardner of Seattle and Lucy Gardner Stokes of Durham.
After a year of military service and year of teaching civil engineering at Duke, Gardner earned his master's degree at Yale University in 1948. Since his return to his home state, he has served as the engineer-of-record on projects totaling approximately $1.5 billion for many of North Carolina's colleges and universities, city and county school systems and medical facilities. At Duke, Gardner led the engineering design work for the Joseph M. and Kathleen Price Bryan University Center on West Campus, the Nello Teer Engineering Library Building, portions of Duke's Center for Living complex, and a number of buildings that are part of Duke University's Medical Center.
"Engineers are designers and builders," said Pratt Dean Kristina Johnson. "The Gardner name has long been associated with construction destined to endure. We are truly grateful to Nick Gardner for his lasting contributions to the university and the school, and to his son for his vision during a crucial time of growth and opportunity for engineering education at Duke."
Although engineering studies at Duke date back to 1888 at Trinity College, the School of Engineering was organized in 1939. Today, the Pratt School of Engineering has 71 tenure/tenure-track and 37 research faculty, 935 undergraduate students and 289 graduate students. Its long-range strategic plan includes adding as many as 20 faculty members and expanding the school's facilities.
The Gardner gift is one of several multi-million dollar contributions to engineering announced during the past several months. Last October, the university announced the $35 million gift from Pfizer Inc. chairman emeritus and Duke engineering alumnus Edmund T. Pratt Jr., for whom the school is now named.
The Pratt School offers undergraduate and graduate programs in four engineering departments -- biomedical; civil and environmental; electrical and computer engineering; and mechanical engineering and materials sciences. The school also offers the Master of Engineering Management degree.
In addition to its departments, the school houses numerous research centers, including the Engineering Research Center for Cardiovascular Technology, the Center for Cellular and Biosurface Engineering, the Center for Advanced Computing and Communications, the Design Automation Technology Center, the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Complex Systems, and the Orthopedic Biomechanics and Tissue Engineering Center.