CU Alumnus Establishes Endowed Chair In Memory Of Former Dean Richard Seebass

Published: July 30, 2001

University of Colorado at Boulder alumnus H. Joe Smead has established an endowed chair in the department of aerospace engineering sciences in memory of A. Richard Seebass, the former aerospace professor, department chair and dean of engineering who died in December 2000.

Engineering Dean Ross B. Corotis announced the gift agreement today, his last as head of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The endowed chair is the 13th endowed chair or professorship in the college, but the first in aerospace engineering sciences. With its creation, there is now an endowed chair or professorship in every department and program within the college.

"Endowed chairs are the ultimate recognition of the excellence of a college and the enabler for its continued greatness in the future," Corotis said. "Creating and awarding an endowed chair is the most significant way to honor an outstanding faculty member and the individual for whom the chair is named."

Seebass was dean of the College of Engineering from 1981 to 1994, a period of great expansion, and then served as chair of the aerospace engineering department from 1994 to 1999.

Smead established the endowed chair in Seebass' memory through a $1 million gift combined with a $750,000 challenge grant that will match other contributions to the fund dollar for dollar. The chair will be awarded when it is fully funded at $2.5 million.

"Endowed chairs are a critical component of the college's campaign," said Paul Bauman, director of engineering development. "We are focusing on endowments for the college in the last two years of the CU systemwide campaign, and the Smead gift is a great challenge for alumni, corporations and friends of our excellent aerospace department. We are confident that leading aerospace engineers and industry executives will help us meet Joe's challenge to raise an additional $750,000 to meet our goal."

Smead received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at CU-Boulder in 1946 as a member of the U.S. Navy's V-12 program. He went on to earn master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington and Purdue University, respectively, and to make his career in the aerospace industry.

He is the author of several books and papers on various aspects of control systems and network synthesis techniques. In 1977 he founded K Systems Inc., later merging it with Kaiser Aerospace and Electronics Corp. He was chairman and chief executive officer of both corporations until his retirement in 1999.

He met and became friends with Seebass in 1993 as a result of their shared interests in the engineering programs at CU-Boulder.