Legacy includes new programs, facilities

The Daily Mining Gazette
March 27, 2004

HOUGHTON — Curt Tompkins is leaving a legacy of academic development and campus modernization after his 12 years running Michigan Tech University.

Tompkins came to MTU after serving as 11 years as dean of engineering at West Virginia University. Under Tompkins’ leadership, MTU emerged as one of U.S. News and World Report’s top 50 public universities.

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Tompkins credits his faculty and staff.

“Basically it’s been a good team effort,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed working with a lot of good people.”

Tompkins also said he’s consistently been impressed by the quality of Tech students.

“We have the most wonderful students that an university could have,” he said.

Tompkins said the university is in a strong financial position despite ongoing budget problems. Aside from the general fund, Tech’s other accounts and cash balance are in good condition.

“I’m actually handing off a university that’s in much better financial shape than the one I inherited,” he said.

Eight new landmarks erected on campus during his time include the $44 million Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building, the $20 million Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and the $35 million Center for Integrated Learning and Information Technology, still under construction (see related graphic).

Tompkins helped build community relations on and off-campus. On campus, he helped promote shared governance between the administration and staff and faculty and increased involvement from alumni hailing from around the world.

Off-campus, Tompkins and Tech helped spur the creation of the Michigan Tech EnterPrise SmartZone with the Keweenaw Industrial Council and the cities of Hancock and Houghton, geared to help spur high-tech job creation.

Former Michigan Tech Fund President Gary Anderson, chairman of Dow Corning Corp., praised Tompkins’ efforts for Tech including leading the Leaders for Innovation campaign which raised $146 million for the school. The campaign was the most successful fund-raising effort in Tech history.

“Curt helped Tech build its endowment while providing funds for student scholarships and fellowships, faculty development, campus enrichment and new facilities,” Anderson said in a statement.

Interim President Glenn Mroz praised the man he is replacing.

“Curt has done a marvelous job of taking us to and over the threshold of being a national university of choice,” Mroz said.

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