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 UMD News Releases

Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

September 21, 2007
Susan Beasy Latto, Director, UMD Public Relations 218 726-8830
Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin 218 726-6202
James P. Riehl, Dean College of Science and Engineering 218 726-6397

UMD Names
College of Science and Engineering
for Alumnus
James I. Swenson

Benefactor's Gifts to UMD Reach $21 Million

New Gifts Include
$7.7 Million for Science Scholarships
$3 Million Toward New Civil Engineering Building

At a news conference today, UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin and College of Science and Engineering Dean James P. Riehl announced the naming of the Swenson College of Science and Engineering after long-time UMD friend and benefactor James I. Swenson. Mr. Swenson is a 1959 UMD graduate with a major in chemistry.

Chancellor Martin and Dean Riehl further announced the most recent generous gifts to the College by James and Susan Swenson and the Swenson Family Foundation--which have now reached $21 million. The new donations include gifts of $7.7 million for science and research scholarships, along with $3 million toward the construction of a new civil engineering building on the campus.

Chancellor Martin with James and Susan Swenson.
Chancellor Martin (left) with James and Susan Swenson.

"We are enormously grateful to Jim Swenson. His visionary leadership, exceptional generosity and strong commitment to students continue to build excellence at UMD," said Chancellor Martin. "It is impossible to describe the enormous impact the Swenson Family Foundation has had, and will continue to have, on our students and faculty, and our science and engineering programs."

Dean Riehl said, "Jim Swenson's gifts for scholarships and undergraduate research support-- combined with the major gift that enabled us to build the Swenson Science Building, and the current commitment to help with the costs of expanding our undergraduate engineering programs-- have truly transformed the UMD College of Science and Engineering. The faculty and students of the Swenson College of Science and Engineering are very thankful for the amazing generosity of Jim and Sue Swenson."

The Swenson's gift of $7.7 million will continue the full-tuition scholarships in chemistry and biochemistry and the undergraduate research programs begun by the Swensons in 1994. Since that time, the Swenson Family Foundation academic scholarships and summer undergraduate research fellowships have supported 200 chemistry and biochemistry students, including 160 who have graduated.

"These important scholarships have greatly assisted UMD in continuing to attract outstanding students to the College of Science and Engineering and to dramatically expand research opportunities for undergraduates," said Professor Bilin Tsai, former Chemistry Department head.

The Swenson's $3 million gift toward the construction of a proposed $16 million civil engineering building on the campus is an important step in funding for the project. UMD plans to begin offering a new Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering with the initial freshman class starting in the Fall 2008. At full admission, the program will have approximately 200 students, with the first class graduating in 2012.

Funding for the building is included in the University capital bonding request to be presented to the Minnesota Legislature in the upcoming legislative session. If successful, groundbreaking would take place in the summer 2008, with building completion set for September 2010.

The Duluth architectural firm SJA (formerly Stanius Johnson) is the lead architect for the project. Ross Barney Associates of Chicago is the design architect. The two firms collaborated on the $33 million UMD James I. Swenson Science Building opened in September 2005.

In 1999, the Swensons contributed $7.5 million toward the construction of the $33 million James I. Swenson Science Building (opened September 2005). Their gift provided the impetus to local legislative leaders who then led the way toward $25.5 million in state funding for the 21st century, state-of-the-art science education and research building. Since 1994, the Swensons have contributed over $3 million for science scholarships and undergraduate research programs.

The UMD College of Science and Engineering currently enrolls just over 2,400 students with 135 faculty members. There are nine (soon to be ten) departments which include:

  • Biology
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Geological Sciences
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
  • Physics
  • Civil Engineering (first freshman class to begin fall 2008)

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