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Carnegie Mellon Engineering Deanship Endowed with $15 Million Gift

alumni / college of engineering
Nancy and William Strecker have provided a transformational gift to the College of Engineering.

Carnegie Mellon University alumnus William Strecker and his wife, Nancy, have made a transformational $15 million gift to endow the dean's chair of the College of Engineering.

The gift provides critical funds for the dean to invest in the major strategic priorities that advance the College of Engineering's educational and research initiatives across its seven departments, as well as its institutes and programs at Carnegie Mellon locations in Africa and Silicon Valley. Carnegie Mellon will recognize this landmark commitment by establishing the Dr. William D. and Nancy W. Strecker Dean's Chair of the College of Engineering.

"Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering is world renowned for its innovations that solve pressing global problems and for its focus on developing future industry leaders through education," President Farnam Jahanian said. "Bill and Nancy's exceptional generosity in endowing the dean's chair will accelerate the college's important work that addresses issues at the heart of our rapidly evolving society."

Incoming Dean William H. Sanders will be the inaugural holder of the Strecker Dean's Chair upon his arrival on January 1, 2020. Sanders, who has spent the past 25 years as a tenured professor in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was announced as the new dean of the College of Engineering last month. The college is currently led by Interim Dean Jonathan Cagan, the George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

"In our many interactions over the years, we have been extraordinarily impressed by the College of Engineering's programs, its students and faculty, and how it responds to students' needs," Bill Strecker said. "The college has had an impact on the entire field of engineering, across the board. Its inspirational work keeps us connected to Carnegie Mellon."

Bill Strecker is a triple alumnus of the college's electrical engineering program, earning bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 1966, 1967 and 1971. For nearly three decades, he worked at Digital Equipment Corporation, where he served as consulting engineer, senior vice president of engineering, chief technology officer and senior vice president of corporate strategy. He earned 16 patents for his breakthrough engineering designs. Strecker notes that perhaps his most satisfying role was leading the development of the highly successful VAX computer architecture.

Later, Strecker served as senior vice president of technology and corporate development at Compaq Computer Corporation and venture capital partner at Flagship Ventures. He concluded his career as chief technology officer and executive vice president at In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit working with startups to provide technology to the U.S. intelligence community.

Strecker has been honored as a member of the National Academy of Engineering; a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery; a lifetime member of the IEEE, earning its prestigious McDowell Award; and as a recipient of Carnegie Mellon's Alumni Achievement Award.

A mathematician by background, Nancy Strecker also had an extensive career with Digital Equipment Corporation, where she and Bill met. She built and led an award-winning worldwide corporate sales team and DEC's global pharmaceutical industry business unit before ultimately retiring as vice president of global customer programs.

"Bill and I are both very passionate about education, which can have such a significant impact on every individual human being, and more broadly as a driver for human rights," Nancy Strecker said. "We have been affiliated with many great universities, and we find the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon represents educational excellence at its finest. Our gift is not only an investment in the future of engineering at Carnegie Mellon, but consequently because of Carnegie Mellon, it is an investment driver in the future of engineering across the field."

Home to more than 3,900 students, Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering is recognized among the best in the world. In the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings, the college's undergraduate program placed at #6, and the graduate program at #4. All of the college's departments are ranked in the top 25, with many in the top 10.

The Streckers have a long history of philanthropy at Carnegie Mellon. In 2013, the couple established the Dr. William D. and Nancy W. Strecker Early Career Professorship in electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon to support talented junior faculty members as they develop into leaders with world-class engineering expertise.

William Sanders, the college's incoming dean, shares a Digital Equipment Corporation connection with the Streckers. Early in his career, in 1989, 1990 and 1991, Sanders was honored with a DEC Incentives for Excellence faculty award, one of just 12 selected each year nationally.

"I am excited and humbled to join Carnegie Mellon and to serve as the first Strecker Dean of the College of Engineering," Sanders said. "Philanthropy provides so many essential opportunities for faculty and students, and I look forward to working with Bill and Nancy and the entire community of supporters to advance the college and Carnegie Mellon."

Carnegie Mellon will host a ceremony to install Sanders as dean and to celebrate the Streckers' extraordinary gift in spring 2020.