AUSTIN, Texas—The Board of Regents of The University of Texas System today (July 11) renamed the College of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin the Cockrell School of Engineering, honoring the late Ernest Cockrell Jr. of Houston, a 1936 graduate of the university who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in petroleum engineering.
Over a 30-year period the Cockrell Foundation has given almost $40 million to the school, which through investment and matching gifts from other donors has grown to almost $130 million. The Cockrell Foundation’s charter reserves additional funding for the school in perpetuity.
Ernest Cockrell Jr. died in 1972 and in 1974 Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall, a primary engineering building on the campus, was named in his memory.
Ernest Harris Cockrell of Houston, who earned engineering and Master of Business Administration degrees at the university and is the son of Ernest Cockrell Jr., said, "The College of Engineering is on everybody’s list as being among the best public and private engineering programs in the United States. People like my parents and others who have made gifts to universities chart the course for greatness. They are examples who invite others with great love for these institutions and great capacity to serve to give their resources for transformational investments."
The impact of more than 30 years of Cockrell giving on the Cockrell School of Engineering has been considerable. The total market value of The Cockrell Foundation and related giving constitutes 35 percent of the engineering school’s total endowment.
To support faculty, The Cockrell Foundation has funded more than half of the school’s 53 endowed chairs. Those funds have enabled the school to attract 30 engineering faculty who are members of the National Academy of Engineering, placing the school fourth in the United States behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.
To support students, the Cockrell School of Engineering annually awards about 300 Cockrell Scholarships and up to 10 Cockrell Graduate Student Fellowships. This helped recruit about 70 national merit scholars and 100 valedictorians and salutatorians in the most recent freshman engineering class.
"Universities become great when extraordinary champions, like the Cockrell family, step forward to make them great," said William Powers Jr., president of the university. "Ernest Cockrell Jr.’s vision and initial investment 30 years ago enabled our engineering program to rank among the very best in the nation. Through its remarkable support, the Cockrell family has continued to embrace and expand his vision. We honor them for their leadership and tremendous generosity."
Ben Streetman, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering, said, "This action by the Board of Regents is the right thing to do. It honors Ernest Cockrell Jr. and his family for a dream of what the school could become through a steady and generous application of private gifts. His visionary investment in the school over this long period paid off. The most recent U.S. News and World Report ranking of engineering programs placed the Cockrell School of Engineering at number 11 among the nation’s 350 accredited engineering programs. I am proud of UT for recognizing the Cockrell family’s long-term philanthropy.
"Looking ahead, the school will receive about $4 million each year from The Cockrell Foundation based on 2007 rates. This is the equivalent of having an additional $90 million endowment. The $130 million in current endowment plus future Cockrell Foundation support creates the impact of an endowment of around $220 million."
For more information contact: Becky Rische, Cockrell School of Engineering, 512-471-7272.