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Tom Mitchell, ISU Foundation, 294-4607
James Melsa, College of Engineering, 294-5935
Barbara Boose, ISU Foundation, (515) 294-5779
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- An international company with long-standing ties to Iowa State University has made a major philanthropic investment in support of the ISU's engineering faculty and students.

Pitt-Des Moines Inc. (PDM) has contributed $1 million to the ISU Foundation to establish the Pitt-Des Moines Inc. Endowed Professorship in Civil Engineering. James Melsa, College of Engineering dean, announced the gift to the department's faculty at a reception at the Knoll, the president's residence on the ISU campus. The endowed faculty position, the first for the civil and construction engineering, will focus on steel construction education and research.

"This investment in the people of Iowa State recognizes the strength and reputation of our department of civil and construction engineering," said Gregory Geoffroy, Iowa State University president. "It also honors the memory of William H. Jackson, an 1891 graduate of Iowa State and one of the founders of PDM."

Geoffroy formally accepted the gift at a recent meeting in Pittsburgh with PDM chairman emeritus William R. Jackson, Sr., son of William H. Jackson, and current chairman Phillip O. Elbert.

William H. Jackson partnered with a former ISU classmate, Berkley N. Moss, to start the company in 1892. The company designed and installed water storage tanks and systems for growing Iowa towns. William R. Jackson was born in Des Moines and graduated from MIT. He joined Pitt-Des Moines in 1936 after working in the engineering field. He rose to the position of president in 1959 and later served as chairman of the board.

PDM, which was recently sold, is now a diversified company that designs and builds tanks and systems for liquid and low-temperature cryogenic storage, fabricates steel bridges, fabricates and erects steel structures for buildings, designs and builds water storage systems. The company is well known for building the St. Louis Gateway Arch. PDM Steel Service Centers distribute and provide value-added processing for a full line of heavy carbon steel products.

Throughout its history, the company has contributed to numerous high-profile projects including Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore; Liquid Natural Gas Import Terminal for Enron in Penuelas, Puerto Rico; Roosevelt Dam Bridge in Arizona; McCormick Place Exposition Center in Chicago; and National Ignition Facility in Livermore, Calif.

"We are very pleased that the Pitt-Des Moines name will live on forever here at Iowa State," said Melsa. "Endowment gifts like this one help secure our future as an outstanding College of Engineering and a great land-grant university."

He explained that an endowed professorship is funded in perpetuity, since only the earnings on investment of the gift will be used to support the professorship.

"The mission of the ISU Foundation is to provide donors with opportunities to make a difference at our institution," said Tom Mitchell, ISU Foundation president. "Outstanding faculty members are one very important measure of an institution's quality. This gift will allow us to continue to recruit and retain those outstanding scholars."

"Given the extraordinary history of Pitt-Des Moines and the leadership of the Jackson family and their successors, our department is quite honored to be chosen to benefit from this gift," said Lowell Greimann, chair of the department of civil and construction engineering. "This is a wonderful story of personal and corporate success in engineering that reinforces the on-going value of an Iowa State education."

ISU has one of the largest civil and construction engineering programs in the country, said Greimann. The department has approximately 700 undergraduate students, 120 graduate students and 35 faculty members. More than 100 ISU alumni have been employed over the years by PDM.

The ISU Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation that secures and manages funds for the benefit of Iowa State University.


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