History

 

 


Responding to the call from former DOE Secretary Hazel O'Leary to increase the support of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and other minority institutions, DOEs Office of Environmental Management (EM) established the Dr. Samuel P. Massie Chairs of Excellence in Environmental Engineering.

The idea for the Chairs of Excellence was conceived at the campus of Tennessee State University (TSU) in Nashville, Tennessee in the fall of 1993.  Dr. Y.C.L. Susan Wu, President, ERC, Incorporated (a small minority-owned business with strong research and education-oriented roots) President Y.C.L. Susan Wu and DOE representatives Larry Thompson (DOE - Chicago Operations Small Disadvantaged Business Specialist) and Jay Hunze (Director of the Environmental Restoration Division in Chicago) met with officials from TSU, Fisk University, and Meharry Medical School to discuss potential programs to benefit minority institutions. The ideas all centered around assisting the institutions in producing top-level graduates and groundbreaking research in the environmental disciplines.

Dr. Wu (a former college engineering professor) presented an idea for the Chairs of Excellence that included two innovative features. The chair grants should be both large enough in size and long enough in duration for the participating universities to fully establish research and teaching programs in the environmental disciplines. The group decided that this was the best idea to present to Thomas Grumbly, then Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management.

Mr. Thompson contacted Malika Hobbs (Acting Director of EMs Office of Contract Operations and Manager of the Chairs of Excellence Program) who arranged a meeting with Mr. Grumbly in the spring of 1994. Timothy Crawford (Assistant Manager for Human Resources and Administration) presented the idea for the grant.  Mr. Thompson, Ms. Hobbs, and Dr. Wu attended the meeting to field any questions. Mr. Grumbly liked the concept and agreed to fund the program with the stipulation that all participating Universities share the overhead cost.

Secretary O'Leary chose to name the Chairs of Excellence Program after Dr. Samuel P. Massie, an African-American chemist of national reputation for championing the cause of minority education.

In a speech given to the participants of the annual AMIE (Advancing Minorities Interest in Engineering) Conference on September 23, 1994, Mr. Grumbly awarded the Dr. Samuel P. Massie Chairs of Excellence to nine HBCUs.  In late 1995, another Chair was awarded to a Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS), Turabo University, in Puerto Rico, increasing the number of Chairs to ten.  Ms. Malika Hobbs became the DOE program manager of the Chairs of Excellence Program.

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