A $1.5 million gift from Charles H. and John B. Phipps in honor of their father will be a catalyst to keep Case Western Reserve University on the cutting edge of engineering. The brothers, both 1949 graduates of the Case Institute of Technology, are so confident in the vision of the Case School of Engineering that they have created the Myron B. Phipps Dean's Discretionary Fund, named for their late father, to impact Case's contributions to engineering and technology education.
Myron B. Phipps was the last president of the Nickel Plate Railroad, a 1,683-mile system serving the industrial and agricultural region between the Mississippi River on the west, the Great Lakes on the north, and the Niagara Frontier on the east. It later became the Norfolk and Western Railway.
Cleveland native Charles Phipps, 79, is now a venture capitalist and an active partner at Sevin Rosen Funds in Dallas. He says he and his brother are encouraged by recent activities at their alma mater and excited "by the potential for continuing momentum over the next 10 years that may be stimulated by this grant."
John B. Phipps, 81, is a retired vice president of the Norton Company and general manager of the Chemical Process Products Group. He now divides his time between Florida and Ohio. "My father was a great believer in higher education. He never had the opportunity to attend college, but he deeply appreciated and understood the need for education," he said.
The Phipps brothers believe in the leadership of Case School of Engineering Dean Robert F. Savinell and have deemed the funds as "unrestricted," meaning it will be at the discretion of the dean to direct the funds. Savinell's vision, which he calls Engineering…Plus, "strikes a balance between the school's renowned academic environment and a strong sense of community. We have attracted and graduated students who are more than just great engineers," said Savinell, who also holds the George S. Dively Professorship in Engineering. "We want students who have a diversity of interests, and we want to educate the whole person. John and Charles Phipps recognized that vision and liked what they saw."
A discretionary fund for the dean of engineering has the potential for significant impact on Case's contribution to engineering and technology education, Charles Phipps said. "This will be largely dependent upon the vision of the dean and the application of funds towards that vision," he added. "Potential applications of this grant, and hopefully a primary one, are seed funding of new initiatives."
Although not limited to these, some that the brothers view as important are:
The Case School of Engineering continues to be a nationally ranked leader in science and engineering education. Students have access to several opportunities—the groundbreaking SAGES seminar program, a comprehensive cooperative education program, countless research opportunities both on and off campus and many more—that enhance the standard curriculum.
Savinell calls these curriculum opportunities for students the embodiment of “Engineering… Plus,” and says innovations such as the new curriculum have always made the Case-educated engineer different.
"Our students respond to these offerings," Savinell said. "The basis of the philosophy is the school's continued commitment to a learning environment that extends well beyond the classroom to enrich the entire person. The term is new, but the ideas behind it date back to the school's founding."
Future students are responding as well. The curriculum enhancements helped Case attract a record class of freshman engineers in fall 2005: nearly 450 students.
Providing unparalleled engineering education and research for 125 years, the Case School of Engineering is committed to "Engineering…Plus": education beyond the classroom, research across disciplines and relationships around the world. Wherever they go, Case faculty, students and alumni consistently lead their fields and have a beneficial impact on society.