A professorship named for an icon of civil engineering has its first recipient, as the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Engineering’s Baoshan Huang has been named the Dr. Edwin G. Burdette Professor.
The award honors Burdette, who has spent more than 50 years at UT and is world-renowned for his civil engineering expertise, particularly in concrete and concrete-based construction.
Huang, of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, also has expertise in concrete, cement and other such materials.
“I was completely thrilled by this honor,” said Huang. “This recognition of my achievements also entrusts me with huge responsibilities to excel in teaching, research and professional service for years to come.”
In making the announcement, College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis lauded Huang’s “exemplary scholarly teaching and research record,” with the professor having brought in more than $6.5 million in research funding and published more than 100 papers.
UT alumni Charley and Lynn Hodges, a married couple, established the endowment in honor of Burdette’s service and commitment to UT, in particular the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and its students.
Charley Hodges, a 1974 graduate of the college, went on to start New Forum Inc., a successful development company near Charlotte, North Carolina. He credits his education at UT for laying the foundation for his success.
Lynn Hodges graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Professor Burdette helped better not just my life, but many others,” said Charley Hodges, who was a student under Burdette in the 1970s. “This endowment is a way for Lynn and me to honor him.
“The selection of Professor Huang, whose research is very similar to Professor Burdette’s, seems somehow fitting.”
“Carrying Professor Burdette’s name with my professional title provides a clear identity and great honor to the program I am representing,” said Huang. “Being associated with a name that has been so important to the department for more than half a century significantly enhances the work we’re doing.”
One of the overall goals of both the college and UT is to be counted among the top 25 public research institutes.
Davis said a major component of that is making sure the university can not only attract top talent but also keep the key faculty members that are already in place at UT.
“Having the best faculty we can is vital for our goals,” said Davis. “Whether bringing in the best talent or making sure that talent is happy once they are here, support such as the Hodges’ endowment is critical.” For Huang, the endowment presents the opportunity to put even more emphasis on the kind of research that matters the most to both himself and Burdette.
He’s worked with Burdette on several projects during his time at UT, co-authoring six papers with him.
“(Burdette) has always been a role model for me as a great educator, excellent researcher, mentor and personal friend.”
Huang said Burdette took the time to coach him on how to more effectively teach undergraduate classes and helped him when he encountered professional difficulties.