West Lafayette, Ind. — The Purdue University Board of Trustees voted Friday (April 21) to approve naming the Lyles School of Civil Engineering graduate program in recognition of a recent significant gift by generous alumni Christopher and Susan Burke. The trustees’ approval distinguishes the Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Graduate Program as one of the first named graduate programs in a civil engineering school in the U.S.
Rao S. Govindaraju, Bowen Engineering Head and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering, said the Lyles School of Civil Engineering is delighted to have its graduate program associated with the Burkes.
“This program has grown in recent years in keeping with continuing development and exploring new frontiers in Civil Engineering,” Govindaraju said. “We continue to receive an ever-increasing number of top applicants to our graduate program from within the U.S. and abroad. This gift will enable us to develop and support new initiatives that enhance graduate student experiences.”
Burke, the president of the Rosemont, Illinois-based Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd., said the unique educational opportunities and experiences he and his family received are among the reasons for their most recent significant gift to Civil Engineering.
“We feel very close to this university,” he said, noting four generations of the family have received 38 degrees at Purdue over the years. “The university is headed in a fantastic direction, and we really want to do our part to keep that great tradition of excellence. We believe this donation will help carry that tradition on.”
The Burkes’ recent gift to name the graduate program counts toward “Ever True: The Campaign for Purdue University,” but they have been major benefactors and supporters of the university and the Lyles School over the years. The Burkes’ contributions helped establish the Christopher and Susan Burke Hydraulics and Hydrology Research and Teaching Laboratory, the Christopher and Susan Burke Undergraduate Hydraulics Teaching Laboratory, a named professorship held by Govindaraju, and the Civil Engineering Center for Applications of UAS for Sustainable Environment.
Burke earned three civil engineering degrees at Purdue: a bachelor’s degree in 1977, a master’s degree in 1979, and a doctorate in 1983. Susan, an alumna of Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts, earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and audiology in 1978.
Purdue honored Burke with the Purdue Engineering Alumni Association President’s Lifetime Award in 2001, the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award in 1998, and the Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Award in 1995. He received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 2010.
A celebration was held on Monday (April 24) in honor of the Burkes and their giving.