University of Nebraska announces major gift from Charles Durham for School of Architectural Engineering and Construction

Omaha – August 8, 2005 – The University of Nebraska announced last week a major gift commitment from Omaha civic leader Charles W. Durham and the Durham Foundation in support of the School of Architectural Engineering and Construction. The school is housed at NU’s Peter Kiewit Institute of Information Science, Technology and Engineering (PKI) in Omaha.

In recognition of the support, University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken announced that the university has named the school the Charles W. Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction.

“Chuck has enjoyed a remarkable professional career, and he has been one of the university’s most generous benefactors,” Milliken said. “He has created opportunities for students and faculty, the city of Omaha and the state of Nebraska that simply would never have been possible without his generosity. It is an honor to name this innovative school for Chuck Durham.”

Plans to create the school were approved by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents in December 2003. The school is based in Omaha and provides structure for three of the university’s existing programs in the college of engineering technology: architectural engineering, construction engineering, and construction management. The organization creates a unique academic setting focused on all facets of building design and construction. It also takes advantage of close affiliation with the civil engineering program, also located at PKI.

“The Charles W. Durham School is one of a kind, it’s unique and there’s no other school like it,” said Walter Scott Jr., chairman of the PKI Board of Policy Advisors and chairman of Level 3 Communications. “It does a substantially better job of giving young people a well rounded education in all aspects of building construction and design. It also perfectly exemplifies Chuck’s pioneering spirit, exhibited by his life and professional accomplishments.”

Only two other universities have programs that share similarities with the Durham School. The Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University in Tempe and the M.E. Rinker School of Building Construction at the University of Florida in Gainesville are highly regarded programs with strong academic construction programs and active research initiatives.

The Durham School is expected to be the premier school of its kind because of its faculty size and expertise, generous private support and its close affiliation with international design and construction firms, many of which are located in Omaha. The Durham School is also the only academic program to combine all elements of the built environment.

The university is currently conducting a search for a director of the school, which is expected to grow to nearly 30 faculty members who teach at both PKI in Omaha and at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where the college of engineering technology is based. There were 655 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled within the school’s three affiliated academic programs during the last school year. The school plans to add a construction engineering major this fall.

The University of Nebraska Foundation has a goal of raising $30 million to support the new school, a majority of which will provide perpetual program support, including endowed faculty awards, graduate fellowships, scholarships and general program enhancements.

The lead gift from the Durham Foundation has stimulated strong interest in the program and has helped realize nine other gift commitments, bringing the total raised to date for the initiative to $23 million. At the request of the Durham Foundation the amount of its gift commitment was not disclosed, but it acknowledges the gift represents a significant portion of the goal.

The Durham Foundation was established by Charles Durham of Omaha and his wife, the late Margre Durham. Charles Durham is CEO of Durham Resources and is the retired chairman and CEO of Henningson, Durham and Richardson (HDR) Inc., an international engineering and architectural firm.

A longtime Omaha business and civic leader, Charles Durham is among the most generous benefactors ever to the University of Nebraska. His support has especially elevated the university in the areas of medical research, patient care and surgery, as well as in the education of science, information technology, architectural engineering and construction.

Note: A digital photo of the school is available at or by emailing Email Contact.


Winnie Callahan,
Executive Director,
The Peter Kiewit Institute

Sara Pipher,
Communications Manager,
University of Nebraska

Review Article
  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Bob'
    This writer is now retired..Mr. Durham was the Chairman of several companies we founded in the sixties....After my living seven decades, I can honestly say Mr. Durham is nothing short of the finest gentlemen and head of our corporations I have ever met...He could talk to people at the highest level in the U.S.A. as their friend and confidant. Although I worked very close to him for over ten years he never had to write a memo or note directing our companies...I am extremely proud he has the Foundation and amazed he has developed many times more things than I knew of....

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