$1.5 Million Gift Establishes First Endowed Chair in Colorado State University’s Construction Management Program

Colorado State University announced a $1.5 million gift to its construction management program from a longtime supporter and alumnus.

The gift was donated by Joseph Phelps, a construction management graduate who was CEO and chairman of Hensel Phelps Construction Co. before he created Joseph Phelps Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley. The funds will be used to establish an endowed chair in the Department of Manufacturing Technology and Construction Management.

The leadership gift is part of the university’s initiative to increase the number of new endowed chair positions. (See attached release.) Phelps was the first to establish a chair this year, and his gift brings the total number of endowed chairs at Colorado State to six.

"I’m proud of the national reputation held by Colorado State’s construction management program," Phelps said. "This gift was a way for me to invest in the young people who are the future of the construction industry."

Bruce Ferguson, CEO of Gerald H. Phipps General Contractors in Denver, said the gift also will pay dividends for the industry.

"Joe Phelps sees the value of building ties between industry and education," Ferguson said. "His tremendous support has helped make Colorado State’s program the most relevant construction management program in the country. The internship program Joe helped establish several years ago brings students closer to real-world challenges and ensures that they’re well prepared."

"This endowed chair boosts Colorado State’s program to the next level. It will further stimulate interaction between industry, faculty and students. This will propel research within the field of construction management, which will benefit the construction industry as a whole."

Colorado State University President Albert C. Yates said the Phelps gift will build on the quality of the construction management program, recognized as one of the top five programs in the country.

"We are indebted to Joe Phelps for bringing his long-range vision to Colorado State’s construction management program," Yates said. "Endowed chairs provide lasting benefit to the university. Joe’s generosity will enhance the education of generations of construction management students and will give them opportunities to learn from the best minds in the field. The Joseph Phelps Endowed Chair represents significant progress toward increasing the strength and longevity of our programs at Colorado State."

Funds that are given to establish endowed chairs are permanently invested by the Colorado State University Foundation, and the interest generated is used to support the chair. The principal amount is never drawn upon, so endowments allow continuous funding to supplement the chairholder’s salary, graduate student work, research and activities tied to the industry. Endowed chairs help the university to attract and retain top-quality faculty.

Established in 1945, Colorado State’s construction management program has grown to 580 students. The program has a 100 percent placement rate, with an average of four to five job offers per student upon graduation. Students are recruited for project management positions nationwide in all areas of the industry. The program is part of the university’s College of Applied Human Sciences.

Phelps’ support of Colorado State has come through scholarships, support for university priority campaigns, faculty development grants, internships and employment opportunities for construction management graduates. In 1994, Phelps gave $100,000 to the Morgan Library Campaign and, in 1996, he gave $500,000 to establish an internship program for construction management students. The program has involved 175 employing companies, and more than 300 construction management students have participated.

In previous years, Phelps encouraged his construction managers and staff to participate in visiting lecture programs at Colorado State.