At a tribute dinner on Feb. 27, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton announced an $8 million commitment from the late Preston Green to support the School of Engineering & Applied Science (SEAS) and its Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering. Nancy Green, his widow, was among the many friends and associates gathered to honor Preston Green and acknowledge his extraordinary generosity to his alma mater.
“We are here today to honor a great man, Preston Green, who has honored Washington University with a significant gift to future generations of engineering students. Although he can’t be with us today to hear our expressions of gratitude, we are delighted that Nancy and his friends are present so we can let them know how much Preston’s commitment means to us,” Wrighton said.
Wrighton announced that starting on July 1, 2006 the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering will be named the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering. Funds from the estate will be used to support a future SEAS building, also to be named after the late alumnus.
“I had the pleasure of knowing Preston for many years. He was a dedicated supporter of our school, a great St. Louisan, and a very generous man,” said Christopher I. Byrnes, Edward H. and Florence G. Skinner Professor of Systems Science and Mathematics, and dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science. “We are extremely grateful for this gift, which will benefit engineering students and faculty for generations to come.”
Although construction of the new building is few years away, plans call for it to house SEAS’s Departments of Electrical and Systems Engineering, and Computer Science and Engineering. Currently, these two departments have faculty offices, classrooms, laboratories and meeting areas scattered throughout Bryan, Jolley, and Cupples II buildings. The new building will allow the faculty, students and staff to work together in one facility, a much more efficient way to conduct teaching and research.
In addition, a new building will be much more conducive to the complex enterprises of these departments, both of which are rapidly developing fields of inquiry and as such, need considerable flexibility in its space.
After Green graduated from Washington University in 1936 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, he went to work in a local factory. After 15 years, he joined Southwest Steel Supply Co., at that time a major distributor of steel products throughout the Midwest. Over the course of a 45-year career with Southwest Steel, he rose to president and chairman. During his time with Southwest Steel Co., Preston was also responsible for the expansion of a second manufacturing plant in Madison, IL. Nationally, Preston was noted for his leadership and vision in the steel industry and was credited with inventing new manufacturing equipment and more efficient processing procedures. In 1990, Green sold the firm to Hanwa American, a subsidiary of the Hanwa Corp. of Japan, but stayed on for five more years as a consultant. A native St. Louisan, he was born in 1915; he died in 2003.