On November 11, 2016, President Mitch Daniels
announced that the School of Chemical Engineering
at Purdue will become the Charles D. Davidson
School of Chemical Engineering. This unique
milestone in the history of the School was made
possible through a $20 million gift from Charles
"Chuck" Davidson (BSChE '72) and his wife, Nancy.
When he was approached about the possibility
of making a gift that would result in his name
forever being associated with the School, Davidson
was honored — and also surprised to learn the
opportunity to make such a transformative
commitment was still available.
"I thought it was crazy that this institution had
existed for 100+ years and hadn't been named yet,"
he says. "It was time."
"What more can be said about the loyalty of our
alumni and their generosity?" said Daniels, who
announced the gift during the President's Council
Annual Dinner. "They are a great part of the reason
that Purdue enjoys renowned status on the world
stage of universities and what keeps students
coming from across the globe. We can't say thank
you enough to Chuck and Nancy Davidson."
What prompted the Davidsons to make the
commitment was the School's list of strategic
initiatives geared toward promoting leadership in
both education and research.
Their gift will be through multiple endowments
allocated to specific purposes: recruiting, retaining
and advancing top-tier faculty; initiating new
teaching and research programs; supporting
graduate students; and maintaining and updating
research instrumentation. Additionally, a strategic
initiative fund will provide financial support where
the School needs it most, as determined by the
"My chemical engineering education at Purdue
helped me to become successful in the technically
complex world of oil and gas exploration and
development," Davidson said. "Nancy and I also know
that alumni support of higher education is critically
important to enhance program quality and facilities.
We want students to get the best possible education
in facilities that are of the highest quality and in
classes taught by outstanding faculty.
Sangtae Kim, the current Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld
Head of Chemical Engineering, said the Davidsons'
generosity will be transformative for the School.
"Our students and faculty have extraordinary ideas
that will change the world for the better. This gift
will be the catalyst to support their research ideas
and allow it to flower," he said. "It's also important
to note the role of my predecessor, Arvind Varma, in
bringing this opportunity to the attention of Chuck
John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of
Engineering Leah Jamieson said Davidson is a
shining example of a Boilermaker.
"He is a quiet leader who has achieved great
things in his career, making a difference in his local
community and on a global scale," she said. "The
College of Engineering is proud to call him an
alumnus, and we're very grateful that Chuck and
Nancy's generosity will allow others to chart their
own paths to life success."
After graduating from Purdue, Davidson went on
to earn his master's degree in management from
the University of Texas at Dallas and has spent more
than 30 years in the oil and gas business. Davidson
also serves through numerous industry, academic
and service organizations. His civic involvements in
Houston have included the Boy Scouts of America,
Society for the Performing Arts and Spindletop
International, an oil industry youth charity.
The Davidsons met when Chuck was a student at
the University of Texas at Dallas, where she also
was a student. They said their gift was driven by
their knowledge that education has played such an
important role in their lives.
"I am honored that Purdue would associate my
name with the School of Chemical Engineering," he
said. "People down the road will have no idea who
we were, but they will know that someone cared
enough to make an investment in their future."
School Named in Honor of Charles (BSChE '72) and Nancy Davidson
ON THE COVER