Engineering Community Members Discuss the Impact of the McKelvey Gift

The renaming of the engineering school at Washington University was announced with great fanfare on January 31. Students, faculty and staff members, and friends gathered in the atrium of Uncas A. Whitaker Hall for a special ceremony. When it was revealed that the school would be called the James McKelvey School of Engineering, banners and balloons bearing the new name were released above the crowd.

The event, which paid tribute to the generosity of Jim McKelvey Jr. and his wife, Anna, was a fitting public celebration for an extraordinary commitment that touches every member of the university’s engineering community. The gift will expand opportunities for students, bolster faculty efforts to teach and perform groundbreaking research, accelerate the school’s growth and development, and strengthen its influence in our world.

“This is the most exciting thing that has happened to the engineering school in my 25 years here. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime gift that changes the nature of the school. It shows that alumni recognize the important role the school and the university play in our society. It will raise our profile, enhance our visibility, and enable us to have a significantly greater impact in everything we do.”

Philip Bayly

Lilyan and E. Lisle Hughes Professor;
Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering

“When I was a student at the university, it was known as a streetcar school. My grandson from Jacksonville, Florida, who is now a senior in the engineering school, chose to come here because of the school’s national reputation. That speaks to the growth that has occurred because of Dean McKelvey and that will continue because of his son’s gift. My wife and I are fortunate to be able to contribute to the work that goes on at the school. We are privileged to be part of the Washington University engineering community.”

Dennis Kessler, BS ’60, MS ’64

President and founder, Midwest Family Business Advisors;
McKelvey Engineering National Council member;
Life Patron of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society with his wife, Barbara, AB ’63

“The endowed professorships created through this gift will help us attract and retain faculty members who are pushing the frontiers of knowledge and making critical contributions to our world. As a department chair, particularly in biomedical engineering, it would be impossible for me to recruit a high-achieving researcher without one of these positions. They provide invaluable recognition and support for faculty members who advance the reputation of the institution.”

Lori Setton

Lucy and Stanley Lopata Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering;
Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering

“Growing up in south Texas, a university education was only a remote possibility for me. My parents are first- and second-generation immigrants, and no one in my family had attended college. The scholarship I received made it possible for me to receive my education at a prestigious institution like Washington University—my dream school. Mr. McKelvey’s gift will give students like me the opportunity to broaden our horizons and follow our dreams.”

Elijah Peña

Computer science student and scholarship recipient;
McKelvey School of Engineering
Class of 2021