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2018 College of Engineering Giving Report

Naples Breakfast Club members bond while fundraising for Chemical Engineering

Section Dedicated to the Cause

While raising money for an addition to Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering, four of the school’s alumni formed a bond that has lasted beyond the capital campaign of the early 2000s. Another active alum later joined their ranks. The five men, who all spend the winter months in southwest Florida, decided to continue their fundraising efforts by forming a “Naples Breakfast Club.”

“Each of us, over time, has donated money and has been active on advisory and fundraising committees for Chemical Engineering and for the college,” says Jim Schorr (BSChE ’54, HDR ’87), who started the group. “We always had the President’s Council meeting in Naples in February, but we all were here for about six months of the year. So I said, ‘Let’s get together at the First Watch restaurant for breakfast, to kind of keep things together.’”

That’s exactly what Schorr, Dick Hazleton (BSChE ’64, MSChE ’66, HDR ’98), Mike Ott (BSChE ’74), David Rea (BSChE ’62) and Jerry Skidmore (BSChE ’54) have done. And their friendships have grown. Bill Wishlinski (BSChE ’68) also was an original member of the group, but a few years ago he moved away from the Naples area.

From left: Jim Schorr, Mike Ott, David Rea, Dick Hazleton and Jerry Skidmore
From left: Jim Schorr, Mike Ott, David Rea, Dick Hazleton and Jerry Skidmore

Sports, hurricanes, health — and philanthropy

“I’m not sure if any of us knew each other before we connected during the campaign,” Hazleton says. “Four of us — David Rea, Jerry Skidmore, Jim Schorr and I — reconnected because we were in southwest Florida. Mike Ott has joined the group now. The Breakfast Club keeps us connected with events at Purdue.”

Naturally, Purdue and the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering are big topics, but they are by no means the only subjects under discussion at the morning get-togethers.

“At this point, the breakfasts are more informal,” Hazleton says. “We talk a lot about Purdue sports, but we also discuss our favorite pro sports teams. Last winter we talked about hurricanes, who had what kind of damage, how long did it take to get it repaired. We talk about anything and everything.”

“We talk development, sports and, because of our age, health. Politics is at the bottom, which is probably good,” Schorr says.

Ambassadors Club

They enjoy conversation and fellowship, but they also take care of business.

“Each of us has good ideas about fundraising and how to go forward,” Schorr says. “We come up with new ideas. And over the years, we all have entertained alumni in our homes.”

One of their ideas was to form the Chemical Engineering Ambassadors Club. To become a member, alums pledge $1,000 a year for five years. One of the first goals the Ambassadors accomplished was establishing an endowment that provides perpetual funding for scholarships and other school needs.

“The concept was to get people a little closer to what is going on in Chemical Engineering at Purdue,” Rea says. “The number of Ambassadors Club members is now close to 200. If that many people are giving $1,000 apiece every year, that is much appreciated.”

Supporting school priorities

Individually, each of the Breakfast Club members has contributed financially, in numerous ways. Over the years, collectively, they’ve given over $4 million — and counting. Their involvement with the school helps them decide which programs to support.

“We typically check with the head of the school and find out what the priorities are,” Hazleton says. “On an ongoing basis we ask, ‘What do you need money for this year? What should we focus on when raising money from others? Do you need scholarships, faculty endowments, physical upgrades?’ We want to take direction from the school about where they need help and how that might change over time.”

As a result, the friends know their gifts have impact. For example, says Skidmore, “I believe we all have supported chemical engineering scholarships and faculty awards.”

Future wishes

As for the future of Chemical Engineering, the Breakfast Club members look forward to continued growth, success and improvement.

“I hope the school continues on the current trajectory,” Rea says. “It is well-known for strong, hands-on undergraduate education, and it has the reputation for helping you land a job as soon as you graduate. The administration is looking at ways to strengthen the graduate school; they have come a long way in that regard.”

Why they give

Ott’s answer for why the Breakfast Club members so consistently contribute to Purdue and the school was echoed by the others.

“When I graduated, I received 13 job offers. I received some job offers without an interview,” he says. “That is how highly prized a graduate of the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering is. When I started working, I quickly discovered that I was very well prepared for the real world, that I was given the skills necessary to be whatever I wanted to be if I worked hard enough. The School of Chemical Engineering transformed me, made it possible for me to succeed.”

To support the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, contact Alyssa Wilcox, senior associate vice president for advancement, at 765-494-0519 or amwilcox@prf.org.

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2018 Distinguished Engineering Alumni/Alumnae

Investments in Infrastructure
Expansions and improvements to teaching and learning spaces, laboratories, offices

Elevating Student Experience
Scholarships, student opportunities, diversity programs, student clubs

Dedicated to the Cause
Fundraising, event hosting, activity planning, advisory boards, networking with alumni

Funding Research
Laboratory infrastructure and equipment, project startup funds, graduate student support

Flexible Gifts
Administrative funds, student travel and networking, unexpected opportunities

Fueling Faculty
Rewarding, retaining, recruiting faculty and promoting diversity in engineering

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