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02-07-2011

Two Clarkson University Alumni Create Professorship in Sustainability


[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/powers.jpg .]

A generous gift from two Clarkson University alumni has enabled the University to create the Jean ’79 and Robert ’79 Spence Professorship in Sustainable Environmental Systems.

Jean E. and Robert C. Spence of Wilmette, Ill., have funded the position to advise the University on sustainability matters; integrate sustainability principles into scholarship, teaching, and service; and to provide a focal point for the exchange of ideas with other institutions worldwide.Sue Powers

Jean Spence is executive vice president of research, development and quality at Kraft Foods Inc. After graduating from Clarkson with her bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering in 1979, she joined Procter & Gamble as a process supervisor. She went on to join General Foods (later Kraft Foods) in 1981 as a research engineer for Maxwell House. She earned three U.S. and worldwide patents for her research and has just celebrated 30 years at Kraft Foods. Jean earned her master’s degree in chemical engineering at Manhattan College and currently serves as a Clarkson trustee.

Robert Spence, who received his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering in 1979, started his career with Loral Corporation as a manufacturing engineer. He went on to work for International Telephone & Telegraph, Singer Corporation and GEC-Marconi Electronic Systems, holding various positions. Bob is currently self-employed. He received his master’s degree in concurrent design at Stevens Institute of Technology.

"We are delighted to acknowledge this generous gift from Jean and Bob Spence," said Clarkson President Tony Collins. "The Spence Professorship will be a central element in achieving Clarkson’s campus-wide sustainability goals and long-range efforts to advance interdisciplinary research among engineers, scientists and policy experts who are focused on establishing and nurturing a more sustainable environment. In a real sense, sustainability is one of the most important issues of our time. It is both heartening and appropriate that Clarkson’s contributions to the design and implementation of global sustainability solutions will be led by the Spence Professor."

The professorship’s criteria state that the faculty member holding the position must have demonstrated superior scholarship and teaching in a field directly relevant to sustainability and will also serve as associate director for sustainability in Clarkson’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

Prof. Susan E. Powers has been named the first Spence Professor. She holds a joint appointment as associate director for sustainability in the Institute for a Sustainable Environment and as a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

"I am deeply honored by this appointment to the Jean ’79 and Robert ’79 Spence Professorship in Sustainable Environmental Systems," said Powers. "The Spences’ generosity adds important resources to Clarkson programs in sustainability, and I am grateful to the donors."

Since joining Clarkson in 1992, Powers has been at the forefront of environmental studies. Her research has been widely published in professional and scientific journals, and funded through grants from the NSF, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Powers has served as the director of Clarkson’s K-12 Project-Based Learning Partnership Program and as director of Clarkson’s Center for the Environment.

Her many awards include the National Science Foundation (NSF) Director’s Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Distinguished Service Award, the John W. Graham Jr. Faculty Research Award, the Dow Outstanding New Teacher Award, and the Career Award, the NSF’s most prestigious award for junior faculty.

Powers earned her bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and her master of science in civil engineering from Clarkson. She received her doctoral degree in environmental engineering from the University of Michigan.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University Prof. Susan E. Powers, associate director for sustainability, has been named the Jean ’79 and Robert ’79 Spence Professor for Sustainable Environmental Systems.


[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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