Of the total donation, $73,020 will directly fund the new Messer Construction Co., Dr. Donn Hancher endowed scholarship, while $12,005 will be pledged to the construction engineering and management (CEM) discretionary fund account as part of an effort to add faculty. Scholarships will be awarded to juniors and seniors focusing on the construction engineering and project management option within civil engineering over the next five years.
The scholarship’s namesake, Donn E. Hancher, Ph.D., is professor emeritus and former Terrell-McDowell chair of construction engineering and management at UK’s College of Engineering. He taught at the school for 17 years.
Messer’s total contribution was reached thanks to 39 individual donations from its employees, many of whom are former students of Hancher’s. The employees’ response was so substantial that the original goal for donations was surpassed by more than $35,000.
On Nov. 18, Messer’s contributors to the donation gathered to present the gift to the university.
Messer President and CEO Tom Keckeis said both UK and Dr. Hancher have left significant marks on the company.
“Messer’s employees are its most valuable asset,” Keckeis said, “and so many of them were shaped personally and professionally right here at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Hancher played an integral role in that development for many of our UK grads, and the overwhelming response we received for him, in the form of donations, certainly speaks to the significance of that impact. We at Messer are very pleased that this scholarship will reflect that remarkable impact by carrying his name.”
Messer currently employs nearly 50 UK graduates, including 34 from the civil engineering program. Four company executives, including Keckeis, have direct history with the civil engineering/CEM advisory committee.
With a relationship that dates back more than 30 years, the University of Kentucky now stands as one of Messer’s largest higher education clients, as well as its largest overall client in the Lexington region.
Messer is currently the construction manager, working through Education Realty Trust, for the first two phases of UK’s residential renewal project. Phase 1 was completed in July 2013. Phase 2A involves $120 million in housing construction and will open in summer 2014. Phase 2B involves $85 million in housing and is scheduled for completion by July 2015. In total, UK plans for the project to expand on-campus housing capacity by 50 percent – to 9,000 beds – making it the largest and quickest residential project in school history.
The residential renewal project currently has 18 Messer UK graduates assigned to it.