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Annette Hacker, manager,
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Office: (515) 294-4777



Lowell Greimann, Civil, Construction and Environmental
Engineering, (515) 294-5586

Vernon Schaefer, Civil, Construction and Environmental
Engineering, (515) 294-9540

Ann Wilson, ISU Foundation, (515) 294-9608

Debra Gibson, News Service, (515) 294-4917

Schaefer named Hoover chair in geotechnical engineering

AMES, Iowa -- Vernon Schaefer, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at Iowa State University, is the first recipient of the James M. Hoover Chair in Geotechnical Engineering.

Schaefer was honored at an Oct. 2 reception at The Knoll, the home of ISU President Gregory and Kathy Geoffroy. Also recognized during the event were Craig and Terry Denny, Lenexa, Kan., Iowa State alumni who funded the endowed chair in honor of Hoover, Craig Denny's former professor.

Hoover, who received Iowa State bachelor's and master's degrees in 1953 and 1956, respectively, joined the ISU engineering faculty in 1955. He died in 1994. According to Lowell Greimann, chairperson of the civil, construction and environmental engineering department, "some of the peak years for geotechnical engineering at Iowa State occurred when Hoover was on faculty in the 1960s, '70s and 80s."

Geotechnical engineering is a multidisciplinary science that applies soil and rock mechanics, engineering geology and other related fields to the problems of civil engineering construction, mineral extraction and improvement of the environment. Anson Marston, Iowa State's first engineering dean, also was its first geotechnical engineer.

Schaefer, who received his master's degree from Iowa State in 1981, joined the ISU faculty in 2003. Prior to that, he served as professor and chair of the civil and environmental engineering department at South Dakota State University. He has worked as a geotechnical engineer for private industry and as a hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. Schaefer holds a bachelor's degree from South Dakota State University, Brookings, and a doctoral degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg.

"I am extremely honored to be named the first recipient of the James M. Hoover Chair in Geotechnical Engineering," Schaefer said. "The endowment provided by Craig and Terry will help immensely in continuing the legacy of excellence we have in geotechnical engineering here at Iowa State. In particular, it is my hope that I can provide the same mentorship to students for which Professor Hoover is so well remembered."

"Vern Schaefer's appointment to this chair will provide the geotechnical engineering program with the impetus to continue to grow to yet another impressive level," Greimann said. "With his professional experience and leadership skills, the momentum definitely continues."

Endowed faculty positions allow Iowa State to recruit and retain world-class leaders by providing the highest level of faculty recognition. Endowed positions help support course development, graduate assistants, laboratory equipment, salary enhancements, professional development and research projects.

"We are exceptionally grateful to Craig and Terry Denny for their gift," Charles Glatz, interim engineering dean, said. "Private support such as this enables the College of Engineering to continue attracting top-notch students and faculty members to all our programs, further ensuring our commitment to excellence in research, education and outreach. Excellent engineering can make for better lives today and for future generations."

Craig Denny received two civil engineering degrees from Iowa State, a bachelor's degree in 1971 and a master's degree in 1973. He earned a doctor of philosophy degree in civil engineering in 1999 from the University of Kansas, and now is senior principal engineer at Terracon. Terracon, founded by Gerald Olson, another ISU alumnus, was a small, Iowa-based geotechnical engineering firm in 1973 when Craig Denny was hired. Today, Terracon is one of the nation's largest geotechnical, environmental and construction materials engineering firms.

Terry Denny, who received a bachelor's degree in elementary education at ISU in 1972, is a paraprofessional with the Shawnee Mission (Kan.) schools.


Quick look

ISU's College of Engineering has a rich tradition in geotechnical engineering, dating back to Anson Marston, who also was the college's first dean.


"Vern Schaefer's appointment to this chair will provide the geotechnical engineering program with the impetus to continue to grow to yet another impressive level."

Lowell Greimann