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Endowments Attract & Retain Notable Faculty

Dr. Michael Kreger is the Garry Neil Drummond Endowed Chair in Civil Engineering at The University of Alabama. Endowed titles come with a discretionary fund for faculty to spend towards advancing their research. The ability to bestow this distinction allowed the College of Engineering to recruit Michael, a notable scholar in his field.

Michael, who received all three of his degrees in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was a faculty member at Purdue University for more than 10 years and the University of Texas at Austin for 20 years.

In 2013, he attended a symposium at UA. Dr. Ed Back, UA civil, construction and environmental engineering department head, organized the symposium and later called Michael to see if he would be interested in joining the CCEE faculty as the Drummond Chair.

“In early March [2014], my wife and I visited and I accepted the position shortly after that,” Michael said. “I joined the UA faculty in August 2014.”

At UA, Michael is the director of the Large-Scale Structures Laboratory and the CCEE departmental graduate program director. His laboratory investigations are aimed at understanding structural behavior and improving the safety of buildings and bridges during extreme hazard events such as earthquakes.

The endowed chair position has afforded him extra assistance and equipment when needed. He has been able to hire student employees who can conduct preliminary investigative research and make sure the appropriate tools are available, which has also aided his colleagues.

“Having significant discretionary funds made it possible to occasionally purchase equipment and hire undergraduate laboratory assistants that my younger colleagues needed to get their research underway in the lab, improving their chances for succeeding at the start of their careers,” he said.

Michael brought enhanced expertise to a group of young, new assistant professors at UA. These early-career faculty have benefited from his leadership alongside his students.

For institutions to thrive, he said, it’s important to retain great faculty with growing careers and to attract established faculty from other institutions with appealing offers. Michael knows all too well how important endowed positions are for hiring and maintaining faculty.

“Endowed positions make it possible and easier to recruit talent from other universities to join your program,” he said. “Such positions can also be useful for rewarding and keeping home-grown talent from being ‘poached’ by other universities.”


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