Colorado State University will confer an honorary doctoral degree on Professor Maurice L. Albertson, who was critical in the formation of the Peace Corps, at spring 2006 commencement ceremonies Friday, May 12.
Colorado State President Larry Edward Penley will award the degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, to Albertson in recognition of his exceptional contributions to industry and Third World nations. He will receive his degree at Colorado State’s Graduate School commencement ceremony at 3:30 p.m. in Moby Arena.
"Maury has made innumerable contributions to the international community and this campus," Penley said. "He has changed lives around the world with his vision of the Peace Corps and his commitment to service and humanity. He is a champion of civic responsibility and a model of the service-oriented character of our faculty, staff and students. We are proud to honor him with his degree."
Albertson, a Centennial Emeritus Professor, has served Colorado State as director of the Research Foundation, director of International Programs and professor of civil engineering. One of Albertson’s most recognized contributions was his critical role in the formation of the Peace Corps.
In 1960-1961, Albertson was the director of the U.S. Congressional study on the Point 4 Youth Corps, which led to creation of the Peace Corps. Albertson and two colleagues, Pauline Birkey and Andrew Rice, co-authored the book, "New Frontiers for American Youth – Perspective on the Peace Corps," which set up the basic design for the Peace Corps.
"Maury’s work to establish the Peace Corps is his most apparent humanitarian contribution, but the work he did to establish Colorado State as a research institution is equally important," said Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering. "Maury helped to establish the Department of Civil Engineering as a world leader in water research, and he played a significant role in creating the Department of Atmospheric Science. He is an amazing individual who, at 87, continues to work for what he believes is right and for the benefit of humankind."
Albertson served as a consultant to the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Agency for International Development, UNESCO and other agencies on projects dealing with water and sanitation, water resource development, village development, small industry development and research and education.
"There are many cases of Maury undertaking tasks to support poor or underrepresented people," said Ray Chamberlain, former president of Colorado State University (1969-1979) and fellow engineering professor who was drawn to Colorado State by Albertson’s work. Chamberlain received a civil engineering doctorate – Colorado State’s first doctoral degree ever awarded – in 1955.
"Maury has been and is a role model for the best of humanity in his continuous efforts to improve the quality of life for others around the world," Chamberlain said.
Albertson continues to be active in education, research and outreach at Colorado State.
In 2004, through the Fulbright Scholars Alumni Initiatives Award Program, he worked with engineering students and faculty at Nepal’s Tribhuvan University to develop and install small hydrogen fuel generators throughout the nation’s countryside to meet energy needs. The project was led by Colorado State’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory because of its strong record of hydrogen research and engine development work with the U.S. Department of Energy and private industry.
The idea for the project began when Chandra Joshi, engineering professor at Tribhuvan University, completed his Fulbright postdoctoral research at Colorado State in 2000. Joshi was hosted by Albertson, a key figure in the hydrogen power movement, and the two began discussions about the potential of hydrogen power for Nepal.
Albertson was named a Centennial Professor by the College of Engineering in 1970 during Colorado State’s Centennial year; he received emeritus status in 1998.
"We need to be motivated by service as well as by profit," Albertson has said. "We serve best by finding out what people want and helping them work to realize their dreams, not by going into a country and telling villagers what they need."