Skip to Navigation Skip to Page Content

Academy is a good idea that keeps getting better

When MU civil and environmental engineering Professor Sam Kiger arrived at the University of Missouri in 1996 after accepting the position of department chairman, one of the ideas he brought with him from the University of West Virginia was the formation of a departmental alumni academy.

“In West Virginia, it was the Mechanical Engineering Department that started an academy,” Kiger said. “This kind of group serves to recognize distinguished alumni, and its members are role models for students.”

Aided by Ron Hollrah, BS CiE ’64, MS ’66, and other members of the Civil Engineering Department’s Industrial Advisory Group, the concept was discussed and a charter was drafted. In 1999, the first group of distinguished alumni — comprised of all living MU civil engineering alumni who had received Missouri Honor Awards — was inducted as the charter members of the MU Civil Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

“After the first group was inducted, we turned it over them. They wrote by-laws and elected officers, and have been actively involved in the life of the department ever since,” Kiger said.

Each fall, the group inducts up to 10 new members at its annual banquet, from nominations by current academy members.

“The can also induct one honorary member each year,” said Professor Mark Virkler, the current chairman of the department, adding that Kiger and Engineering Dean Jim Thompson are both honorary members.

“In the morning on the day of the banquet, they have a general meeting to discuss what they can do to help the department and to help the college achieve its mission,” Virkler said.

Virkler and other faculty are very appreciative of the funding the academy provides in support of the department’s student groups and teams.

“They decided that there weren’t many scholarship opportunities for transfer students, so they started sponsoring a scholarship program for them with four recipients every year,” Virkler added.

In addition, academy members have initiated efforts among themselves to contact legislators on issues that impact the college. The group also took it upon themselves to commission an architectural rendering for the renovation of the 1892 building that houses the department. Members of the academy joined forces with other engineering alums in 2009 to raise $10,000 to upgrade the worn flooring and aged wall coverings of the department office.

“It’s a great pleasure for me to share with current students how the academy works to support them and the department’s student groups,” Virkler said.

This year’s induction banquet is scheduled for the fall semester. Four alumni were inducted into the Civil Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2012:

D. Matt Bond, BS CiE ’83, MS ’89

Matt Bond

Matt Bond

Matt Bond is an associate vice president and wastewater practice leader with Black & Veatch, a global consulting and construction company. He has spent 28 years working in the areas of advanced wastewater treatment, nutrient removal, biosolids management and infrastructure management.

A member since 1985, Bond was the 2011-1012 president of the Water Environment Federation, a not-for-profit technical and educational organization with 36,000 members and 75 affiliated member associations around the world. He also has served on the board of the Kansas Water Environment Association acting as president in 2006-2007.

He plays regularly in his church’s orchestra and also led and participated in mission trips to Honduras.

Bond is a registered professional engineer in in Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

Peter F. Johnson, BS CiE ’88

Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Pete Johnson is a senior project manager for he St. Louis Bridge Construction Company where he has worked for 20 years. He has been involved in the field of construction project management and engineering for a number of additional transportation firms as well.

Johnson has served as a soccer coach for Kirkwood Recreational League Teams, was a cubmaster with Boy Scouts of America and has been active in his church’s music program, where he also has been a Sunday school teacher and a deacon.

Johnson is a registered professional engineer in Missouri.

James W. O’Neill, BS CiE ’81, MS ’82, University of Washington MBA’01

James O'Neill

James O’Neill

James O’Neill is president of Boeing’s Global Services and support, a business unit of Boeing Defense, Sapce & Security. He has been with The Boeing Company since 1998. An aerospace executive for 31 years, O’Neill has brought engineering, program management and performance base logistics expertise to bear at both Boeing and McDonnell Douglas Corp., where he worked from 1981 to 1998.

He is a board member of the Center of Excellence in Logistics & Technology, a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, serves on the board of Youth in Need and is director of the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholars Foundation.

“I was very honored to be inducted into the CEE Academy, O’Neill said. “My years at Mizzou studying civil engineering taught me discipline and critical thinking, which has served me quite well in my professional career. Under Dean Thompson and Dr. Virkler, Mizzou Engineering is reaching new highs as an educational and research institute. I am quite proud to be a small part of this community.”

Thomas A. Skinner, BS CiE ’70, MS CiE ’71

Portrait photo of Thomas Skinner

Thomas Skinner

Thomas Skinner retired from the Missouri Department of Transportation in 2011 where he spent the last three years of his career as the task force bridge engineer for the KcICON design/build project.

From 1971 until 1998, when he began working for MoDOT, he worked 27 years for Howard Needles Tammen and Bergendoff, an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and construction contractors. When he left the company he was vice president responsible for bridge design, marketing, quality control, budgeting and planning.

Skinner was involved in both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, served on numerous chambers of commerce and economic development councils and provided guidance to the Vocational Technical School in Goodland, Kan., regarding the use of computers for computer aided drafting. He also served on the MU Dean of Engineering’s Advisory Board.

A member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Skinner was a registered professional engineer in Missouri and 14 other states.