A Capital Idea - Key contribution demonstrates the Davidsons' commitment to excellence

Chuck and Nancy Davidson
A $30 million capital campaign entitled “Champions of Excellence” is fortifying the School of Chemical Engineering’s position as the premier source of well-educated, well-prepared chemical engineers by providing students with innovative classroom and laboratory technologies and fostering an environment conducive to inspiring cutting-edge research.

The first phase of this campaign saw completion of the Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering addition dedicated in October 2004. The second phase involves the renovation of the original building, built in 1940, to position the School of Chemical Engineering for future excellence. Its centennial anniversary was celebrated with special festivities on October 7-8, 2011.

In Chuck and Nancy Davidson, whose recent $1 million gift brings their total commitment to $1.5 million, the School of Chemical Engineering has two champions dedicated to providing Purdue students with the facilities they need to prepare today for the jobs of tomorrow. The idea of ensuring that Purdue students will be positioned to compete for those jobs is exactly what inspired Chuck and Nancy Davidson to become involved with this multifaceted renovation project.

“There is a natural connection that exists between a university and its alumni,” said Chuck Davidson (BS 1972, chemical engineering). “Obviously, I feel that connection. Purdue continues to do a number of wonderful things and employers continue to be excited about hiring Purdue students. We were eager to provide support in a way that directly impacts the students.”

“Purdue continues to do a number of wonderful things and employers continue to be excited about hiring Purdue students. We were eager to provide support in a way that directly impacts the students.”

– Chuck Davidson

Chuck Davidson is currently the chairman and chief executive officer of Noble Energy Inc., a leading independent energy company that has been engaged in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas since 1932. Its operations include producing assets in the United States as well as in China, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Israel and the North Sea.

Before joining Noble Energy, Chuck was chairman, president and chief executive of Vastar Resources Inc., a publicly owned subsidiary of Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), which merged with BP in 2000. 

He and Nancy met through mutual friends while enrolled at the University of Texas at Dallas, where Chuck earned a master’s degree in management and administrative sciences and Nancy earned her bachelor’s degree in business and public administration. 

“We support a variety of organizations, but education is a top priority for both of us,” Nancy said. “We like to put our money where it matters and are committed to seeing our contributions used in a way that makes a clear difference and a definitive impact.”

Consistent communication with Arvind Varma, the R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and head of the School of Chemical Engineering, gave Chuck and Nancy a clear understanding of what their gift would accomplish for the School of Chemical Engineering. In recognition of their support, the main office suite, which houses the school’s administrative offices, has been named in their honor.

“We pledged our support to this effort because we know companies are often reluctant to support facilities, and we feel it is difficult to provide a first-rate education without a first-rate learning environment,” said Chuck Davidson. “This was a good fit for us from a philanthropic standpoint, and we see it as a great opportunity that happened to come along at the right time.”