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Donations flow in to teacher-scholar program in SIUE School of Engineering


From left, SICAP Administrator Donna Richter, School of Engineering Development Director Lisa Smith, School of Engineering Dean Cem Karacal, School of Engineering Associate Dean Chris Gordon, and SICAP Chairman Bruce Holland.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville faculty members are teacher-scholars who strive to remain at the forefront of a fast-moving industry and translate that into theoretical and applied classroom learning. Their guidance ensures students have the skills, knowledge and versatility needed to thrive in the workforce and make industry advancements.

The SIUE School of Engineering has created the Faculty Advancement Endowment to provide teacher-scholars in the Department of Construction with the resources needed to develop applied research and enhance curriculum. Realizing the return on investment these faculty members make by developing future leaders, industry partners are showing their support by contributing to this growing endowment.

To date, three generous partners have contributed $25,000 each, including:

– The Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program of the Southern Illinois Builders Association (SIBA), based in O’Fallon
– Swansea-based Holland Construction Services
– Edwardsville-based Contegra Construction

“The professional development of our faculty ensures students continue to receive cutting edge instruction, as faculty expertise is linked to student success,” said SOE Dean Cem Karacal, PhD. “This endowment is the perfect example of how strong, regional partnerships with construction companies can provide additional resources for our School. We greatly appreciate their commitment to the well-being of the Department of Construction. With this industry support, our faculty will be more available to work on industry problems, which will not only benefit our partners, but also faculty and students through real-life experiences and case studies.”

“SICAP believes that there is an absolute need for continuing to support education which is a simple, hard fact of modern life for all workers, including and especially construction industry workers now and in the future,” said SIBA CEO Donna Richter. “The contributions that SICAP donates to SIUE ensure that students are trained with state-of-the-art equipment and in construction-related programs that will prove beneficial in the industry. It is imperative that SIUE has the resources to retain the faculty necessary to teach and train future generations.”

According to Holland Construction Services’ President Mike Marchal, an SOE alumnus, more than a third of the company’s office staff and over half of its owners are graduates of SIUE’s construction management program. The company has also sent 18 employees through the SIUE Construction Leadership Institute (CLI).

“The SIUE School of Engineering has provided best-in-class talent to Holland since our company was founded over 35 years ago,” Marchal said. “We feel extremely grateful to have a program of this caliber in our immediate area. By staying involved at the University through boards, committees and scholarships, we are able to deepen our relationship with SIUE, the program and its students. Our goal is to be the most sought-after employer and builder in the metro area. Contributing to the Faculty Advancement Endowment is one way to ensure our goals are achieved through the important work of our partner – SIUE’s School of Engineering.”

Contegra Construction Founder and President Eric Gowin is also an SIUE alumnus. He consistently looks to SIUE for new and upcoming talent. Currently, more than 20 alumni and nine CLI graduates are in the company’s employment ranks. Additionally, Contegra annually strives to have several SIUE student interns.

“Contegra Construction Company is a National Design-Build General Contractor specializing in industrial, corporate office, multi-family, healthcare, municipal, institutional and retail construction,” said Gowin. “The School of Engineering’s program aligns perfectly with our core business needs, providing graduates with a solid educational foundation that is perfectly suited for our industry.”

“Contegra maintains a close relationship with the University,” added project executive Dennis Araujo. “Our employees have and continue to serve on the School of Engineering’s Industry Advisory Board, the CLI Advisory Board, and as guest speakers for several program’s classes.”

The SOE seeks seven additional gifts of $25,000 or more to fund the endowment, which will generate an estimated annual income of $10,000 to support construction faculty.

“We appreciate the generous support of our industry partners, and are confident that their return on investment is significant,” said SOE Director of Development Lisa Smith. “Interest earnings from this endowed fund will allow construction management faculty fellows to work alongside industry partners to solve real-world problems. This, in turn, will help attract and retain talented faculty members to the Department of Construction, as their applied field research will enhance program quality and improve the ability of our graduates to meet industry needs.”

To learn more about this giving opportunity, contact SOE Director of Development Lisa Smith at

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