UMC Links

U Alum Builds for Future Engineering Students

Jan. 16, 2008 – The University of Utah today announced a $3.3 million lead gift for its department of civil and environmental engineering.  The gift, from U alum Floyd Meldrum and his wife Jeri, of Las Vegas, Nevada, is the cornerstone in a $5 million campaign to strengthen civil engineering.  Their gift will help fund a 14,500 square foot expansion of an existing laboratory and office building.  When complete, the expanded building will be renamed the Floyd and Jeri Meldrum Civil and Environmental Engineering Building, in recognition of their total giving to the University which now exceeds $3.5 million.

Floyd Meldrum received a BS in civil engineering from the University of Utah in 1962.  He and his wife Jeri are the founders of Southern Nevada Paving, an aggregate, asphalt and contracting business in Las Vegas, which they successfully operated for 41 years prior to its sale in 2003. 

In making the gift, Meldrum credited the education he received at the University of Utah and its outstanding faculty.  “My career has its foundation in the department of civil engineering, and the lessons and experiences in those early days allowed me to build a general engineering construction business that helped many of my employees support families and build careers of their own.”  Meldrum also acknowledged the support and encouragement of his wife of 50 years.  “As many members of our family have or are pursuing careers in civil engineering, Jeri and I are pleased to contribute to the continuing growth and success of civil and environmental engineering at the U.  This contribution also recognizes the people and the profession that provided the opportunity for us to build a successful company.  We hope to assist you in inspiring others to join in this partnership to make it a nationally recognized program.”

“We thank the Meldrums for their extraordinary gift, which will have a transformative effect on one of our key departments in the college of engineering,” said President Michael K. Young.  “Demand for highly qualified civil engineering graduates has reached unprecedented levels and we are committed to strengthening the program,” said Young.

The Meldrum’s commitment is the lead gift in a $5 million focused campaign for facilities, scholarships, and improvements in the department.  The University of Utah has long been the academic foundation of the leading civil engineering, construction, consulting, and design firms throughout the West.  Many of Utah’s leading construction and engineering consulting companies were established by U of U graduates.  In recent years, construction and transportation sectors have dominated the list of Utah’s growth industries in the number of new jobs. 

Paul Tikalsky, department chair, stated that “Career surveys consistently rank civil and environmental engineering near the top for future demand, stability, and compensation.  As Utah and the West continue to expand, the construction and consulting industry is seriously constrained by the shortage of engineering professionals.”  The University of Utah has increased the number of civil and environmental engineering faculty positions by 50 percent and student enrollment by 73 percent to a new high of nearly 400.  One hundred percent of the BS graduates each year for the past 20 years have passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, a benchmark of professional competency. 

With $3.7 million in private and university funds already committed and a remaining goal of $1.3 million, the Campaign to Build Civil & Environmental Engineering will provide a new administrative home for the department, faculty offices, student activity space and capstone design studios.