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College of Engineering to receive $2 million gift for fellowships

Jeff Unger, News Bureau (217) 333-1085


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The College of Engineering has received a $2 million gift for endowed fellowships from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust of Muscatine, Iowa.

The first Carver Fellows are expected to be named next fall.  A committee, being formed, will establish criteria for awarding the fellowships, which are stipends awarded to graduate students.

“The Carver Fellowships will become a prominent feature in our recruiting efforts, and the awarding of the fellowships, along with the ongoing recognition of Roy J. Carver, will become an annual celebration in the life of the college,” said William Schowalter, the dean of the college.

Carver, who died in 1981, was an Illinois native and graduated from the Urbana campus in 1934 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.  He founded Carver Pump Co. and moved to Muscatine in 1942.  There, he established Carver Foundry Products.

While visiting Europe in 1956, Carver saw unusual-looking retreaded tires on a car.  The next year, he purchased the North American rights to a method of topcapping tires and founded Bandag Inc., which now is the world’s largest producer of tire-retread materials and equipment.

Carver won a U. of I. Alumni Achievement Award in 1974, and in 1977, the College of Engineering gave him its Alumni Honor Award for Distinguished Service.  After his death, a foundation was established to honor his name.

The Carver Trust has invested more than $1.6 million in research funds for pioneering initiatives in medical and scientific research on the Urbana campus.  The most recent support focuses on promising young investigators with the potential to become leading biomedical scientists.

The U. of I. researchers recently awarded Carver grants are James Slauch, microbiology and College of Medicine, and Paul Selvin, physics and biophysics.  Slauch received a grant to continue his work on salmonella typhimurium, the leading cause of death among food-borne bacterial pathogens.  The work has future applications in the development of vaccines and antimicrobial drugs to prevent infections.  Selvin’s work focuses on nerve-cell proteins called ion channels.  The malfunctioning of the channels causes epilepsy and cardiac disorders; Selvin’s work may lead to a better understanding of why the channels malfunction.

Klaus Schulten, physics, also has been a recipient of Carver grant funds.  His current work centers on the structure and function of supramolecular systems in the living cell, and on the development of algorithms and efficient computing tools for structural biology.