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A group of donors attended the 80th anniversary celebration lunch at Rice Village in Houston in October of 2019.
Industrial and systems engineering professor Dr. Mark Lawley (right), donors and former students attended an 80th-anniversary celebration lunch at Rice Village in Houston in October 2019. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering
2020 marked the 80th anniversary of Texas A&M University’s Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and the goal of the department was to increase the number of students scholarship gifts to mark its anniversary.
“Our 80th year was a huge milestone. In that time, our department has emerged as one of the leading industrial and systems engineering departments in the world,” said Dr. Mark Lawley, professor and former department head. “Our hope for the 80th-anniversary celebration was to renew and strengthen relationships with our former students and to solicit their help in raising funds for undergraduate student scholarships. This was more successful than I ever dared to dream, and I am truly humbled and grateful to all those former students who attended our events and participated in helping our current and future students. The impact of so much selfless giving will be felt for years to come.”     
The first industrial and systems engineering courses at Texas A&M were offered in 1918 by Dr. E.J. Fermier from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Judson Neff left Harvard University to join the Texas A&M faculty as the head of the newly developed Department of Industrial Engineering in 1939.
While only one student was enrolled during the 1940-41 academic year, the department continued to grow. The first graduate degree was granted to Hall Hamilton Logan in 1945. His thesis was titled “A Study in the Further Industrial Development of Texas Through an Analysis of the Metal Industry.”
Early faculty members played an important role in further developing the department by implementing their extensive industry experience into the curriculum. Industry knowledge in motion and time study, production engineering, tool engineering, plant design and personnel issues became staples that paved the way for the future of the industrial engineering education.
The department continued to grow significantly throughout the decades, and in June 2017 Lawley was appointed department head. Thereafter, he developed a former student outreach program with a goal of increasing gifts and donations to mark the 80th year of the department.
With Dr. Lewis Ntaimo being appointed as department head in 2020, growth continues to be at the forefront of the department. The department’s fundraising team includes Ntaimo; Dr. Mike Graul, associate professor of practice and assistant department head; John Bernheim, senior director of development in industrial and systems engineering and biomedical engineering; Gabrielle Gutierrez, manager of alumni and donor relations and Cheryl Kocman, senior administrative coordinator.
“We will continue the outreach efforts that Dr. Lawley started so that our department fulfills its vision of being a top five program in the nation in the next five years and continues to attract the best students to Texas A&M,” said Ntaimo. “On behalf of the department, I am very grateful to all our donors for their generosity, especially during a pandemic. Their gifts will help many students for years to come.”
Prior to the pandemic the team traveled to Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Austin, Houston and San Antonio to meet with former students. In March 2020, the team moved to an online format to reach former students across the world. During this time the department held 18 events reaching over 400 former students.
The following donors supported the department during the 80th anniversary:
  • Meribeth and Richard T. Wilkinson ’82
  • Angela and Michael Tuller ’87
  • Sherri and Todd Elder ’84
  • Martha Bellens-Martin ’85
  • Wm Michael and Sugar Barnes ’64
  • Stephen M. Johnson ’73                        
  • Betty and Dan Scarborough ’63
  • Marilyn and L. David Black ’59
  • Robin and William P. Jensen ‘85
  • David Cotten and Andria N. Elkins ‘04