McKetta Birthday Bash Launches Campaign to Rename Department

Dr. John McKetta and wife, Pinky McKettaWe recently teamed up with the Cockrell School of Engineering to celebrate beloved Emeritus Professor John J. McKetta’s 95th birthday and launched a campaign to rename our department in his honor at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin.At full capacity, over 400 of McKetta’s former students and colleagues, along with family and friends, gathered to pay tribute. Guests mingled before dinner and enjoyed several speakers along with a specially commissioned documentary: A Tribute to John J. McKetta Jr.

McKetta concluded the evening with a heartfelt address: “I’ve had so many wonderful families other than my original family. In teaching, my [students] are members of my family. You know there’s a closeness between us that’s a lot closer than friendship, it borders on love and a family feeling.

“And I’ve been so happy, always, along with Pinky [my wife] and wonderful immediate family-we’ve just been blessed in every respect. We thank you so deeply, from the bottom of our hearts, that you would come, many of you from long distances and important agendas, to be with us tonight.”

Stories shared on the night reflect what a huge inspiration, and caring mentor, McKetta has been through his 64 years with The University of Texas at Austin. It was the perfect opportunity to launch the biggest philanthropic ambition the department has ever undertaken, The Challenge for McKetta.

The goal is to raise $25 million by 2014 to aid faculty recruitment, student support at graduate and undergraduate level, laboratory enhancements and more. Generated funds will secure continued advancement for the department, the ultimate gift for McKetta, and boost our aspiring climb to the top of the ranks.

We encourage alumni, friends and corporate partners to give back in admiration of McKetta who has given so much, including donating the sum of all his paychecks back to the university when he retired in 1990. In honor of this collective investment, by thousands who know and love him, we look forward to renaming the department the John J. McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering when the target is reached.

Chemical engineering alumni also have the chance to leave their legacy on the department by creating an endowment in their name. Various levels of giving are available, so check out the official Challenge for McKetta webpage to give online today or contact Kelsey Evans at 512-471-6151 for more information.

Those unable to attend McKetta’s birthday bash can view video coverage of the event posted on the Cockrell School of Engineering’s website.

Posted on: