"Mines has the best mining engineering programme in the world, and Ardy and I are pleased to provide meaningful support to create an even better mining engineering educational experience for students," said Whisler, a retired mining executive who earned a master's degree in mineral economics at Mines in 1984 and received an honorary doctorate in engineering in 2001.
The investment creates the J. Steven Whisler Chair for the Head of Mining Engineering, the J. Steven Whisler Professor of Practice and the J. Steven Whisler Scholars Programme, which funds scholarships for mining engineering students.
"We want to support the department's evolution under a visionary leader and a faculty member who will develop and lead forward-looking strategic initiatives, while giving students financial support to enable them to pursue careers in the mining industry," Whisler said.
The Whislers' investment comes as the number of US mining engineering students is shrinking and fewer than 200 students on average are graduating each year.
As a result, there are simply not enough graduates with expertise to meet the rapidly escalating demand for minerals and materials used in construction, transportation, electronics and energy production, or to address the coming onslaught of retirements across industry and academia. In the US alone, the Bureau of Labour Statistics projects about 500 mining and geologic engineer jobs openings each year for the next decade.
"Mining companies not only have to compete among ourselves for the best talent, but with other industries such as tech firms in the Silicon Valley," Whisler said. "It's critical that we continue to create a positive reputation and work environment for the industry that will attract and retain new talent to the profession."
Whisler spent his career in the mining industry, working his way up from a summer intern to chairman and CEO of Phelps Dodge Corporation, where he retired in 2007 after overseeing the company's $26 billion sale to Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
Mines president Dr Paul C. Johnson said the Whislers' historic investment gives the department resources to be the exemplar and leader that all other universities will want to emulate, not only because of the quality of its graduates, but also because its expertise and education align with industry's future needs.
"The mining engineering programme's world-renowned reputation reflects our graduates' capabilities and successes, the programme's strong connection and relevance to industry, our faculty's expertise and leadership and the programme's unique resources, such as the Edgar Mine," he said. "The Whislers' support shines a spotlight on our programme and will catalyse its evolution in a way that could not happen without it."
Got a story? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org