$3 Million Gift Benefits Department of Chemical Engineering
Kevin Brown (center) with friends Regina and John Goodwin, wife Marie Brown and daughter Sydney Brown-Chua at the 2011 College of Engineering Alumni Awards.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumnus Kevin Brown and his wife, Marie, have created an endowed department head chair within the College of Engineering thanks to a $3 million gift. The Kevin W. and Marie L. Brown Department Head Chair in Chemical Engineering was established by the Houston couple and will benefit the Ralph E. Martin department of chemical engineering at the University of Arkansas.
“Supporting the university by establishing endowed chairs helps us attract and retain the most innovative faculty for our students,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “This is a critical need, since endowed positions help us remain competitive with our peers. Kevin and Marie’s gift will make a tremendous impact within the College of Engineering and allow the Ralph E. Martin department of chemical engineering to make significant strides in teaching, research and service.”
Buddy Babcock, department head for chemical engineering, said the endowed gift is very timely, because the department now stands at a crossroads with a new department head search underway. “Kevin and Marie are making a difference by providing the resources we need to attract and retain a proven leader for the Ralph E. Martin department of chemical engineering. During the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century, we were fortunate enough to receive a naming gift for the department, and this new gift is a monumental opportunity to build upon that foundation.”
John English, dean of the College of Engineering, also noted the significance of the gift. “Any time we receive a multi-million dollar gift such as this, it makes a crucial impact to our college. We are honored by the generosity of the Browns and appreciate their commitment to our success. Kevin is a remarkable alumnus of ours and has done exceptionally well throughout his career. We are honored that he takes the time to give back to his alma mater by serving in many capacities in the college. In addition, his financial support is a significant contribution toward the success of the college and a testament to how much our alumni value their engineering education.”
Brown is originally from North Little Rock and came to the University of Arkansas after receiving an academic scholarship. “I came to the university to obtain a degree in chemical engineering,” he said. “Not only did I receive the degree, I learned a number of valuable life and professional skills while at the university. As a result of that early financial help and the skills learned, we have been blessed, and feel an obligation to share our success with future generations.”
Brown believes his experience at the university directly impacted his ability to be effective in the business world. Today, he serves as senior vice president of refining for LyondellBasell Industries in Houston, the third-largest independent chemical company in the world. His responsibilities include the refining segment and the procurement and utilities, global engineering services and global project services organizations. He has served as chair and vice-chair of the National Petroleum Refiners Association and is currently a member of the executive committee of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association.
“I have a strong affection for the University of Arkansas,” he said. “My wife understands the importance of the university to our lives and supported our decision to make the gift. She’s been a big part of why we’ve been able to accomplish what we have.”
Brown, who received a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2011, serves on the university’s Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee and the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Advisory Council, their Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee and Arkansas Academy of Chemical Engineers. He and his wife are recognized in the Towers of Old Main, a society that honors the university’s most generous benefactors.
In addition to their giving to the university, the Browns have established the Megan Leigh Brown Fellowship for Ovarian Cancer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
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