An iconic member of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Engineering received a high honor recently as the Dr. Edwin G. Burdette Professorship Endowment was announced.
UT alumni Charley and Lynn Hodges 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.
Burdette has been in the department for over 50 years, first earning his master’s degree at UT in 1961. After receiving his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Illinois in 1969, he returned to the department.
Since 1981, he has been recognized for his excellence in teaching and research with the Fred N. Peebles Professorship.
“This is a chance for Lynn and me to honor someone who has influenced not only my life but also the lives of countless others,” said Charley Hodges, who was a student of Burdette’s in the 1970s. “His devotion to UT and to his students has impacted multiple generations.”
Burdette is considered an expert in the study of concrete and concrete-based construction.
He has won numerous accolades for his teaching and is a fellow of both the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Concrete Institute.
News of the award came as a shock to Burdette. Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis and others were waiting on Burdette at what he had thought would just be a casual lunch with his wife.
“This award was a total surprise,” said Burdette. “This was an honor that I had never even dreamed of. I cannot express in words how grateful I am for the extreme generosity of Charley and Lynn Hodges. It is an honor that will endure in the department and college long after I am no longer here.”
In addition to recognizing Burdette’s work, the endowment is also the answer to a call Cheek made regarding UT’s progress toward becoming a Top 25 public research institution.
Part of that journey involves attracting top faculty and ensuring that the resources, funding and support are in place to help those faculty members serve effectively at UT. The award was set up to help the College of Engineering with that in mind.
“Having and retaining excellent faculty is vital to our continued progress,” said Davis. “Support like what the Hodges are giving is crucial to maintaining our momentum as we seek to be the best college that we can be.”