Photo of the late F. Joseph Callahan.
F. Joseph Callahan

Callahan Foundation commits $2.5 million for Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building

The legacies of the late F. Joseph and Mary Elizabeth Callahan are reflected in more than five decades of generous philanthropy across numerous higher education, arts and social services nonprofits in Northeast Ohio, including Case Western Reserve.

This week, the M.E and F.J. Callahan Foundation expanded its support of CWRU by committing $2.5 million for the university’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building (ISEB)—a 189,000-square-foot facility on Case Quad, offering modular labs and adjustable spaces to elevate cross-disciplinary research.

“Research universities are in competition for talent—students, faculty members and administrators—and part of recruiting and retaining is offering state-of-the-art facilities,” said the Callahans’ son, Tim Callahan (MGT ’99), president and executive director of the Callahan Foundation and trustee emeritus at CWRU. “My father was very invested in civic life and knew Case Western Reserve had an opportunity to make an impact on the region. Supporting the ISEB is one way we can help ensure the university is positioned for success.”

An engineering mindset

F. Joseph “Joe” Callahan Jr. was an engineer, business leader and distinguished Naval officer. He married Mary Elizabeth in 1945 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy and worked on several high-profile projects over the next 12 years, climbing to the rank of lieutenant commander. He resigned from active duty in 1957 and joined the fluid systems company that would become Swagelok. During his 42-year tenure—with titles ranging from salesman to president and CEO, and finally, chairman—Swagelok’s sales grew from several million to more than $1 billion.

Callahan recognized that the world’s greatest challenges—sustainable energy, infrastructure, housing and efficient manufacturing, among others—require an engineering mindset, Tim Callahan said.

The ISEB will bring together researchers, students and faculty members from CWRU’s Case School of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences to approach these and other emerging challenges from different angles and collaborate on solutions.

“We appreciate the Callahan Foundation’s continued generosity to Case Western Reserve University,” said President Eric W. Kaler. “Tim and his wife, Nancy, are dedicated alumni and have been tremendous proponents for so many critical initiatives and projects, like the ISEB, that are transformative for our entire campus community.”

In addition to the ISEB, the M.E. and F.J. Callahan Foundation and Callahan family have supported a variety of CWRU initiatives over the years, including an entrepreneurial management program at Weatherhead School of Management; the Critical Care Transport Simulator at Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing; the National Youth Sports Program; and the F. Joseph Callahan Distinguished Lecture Series.

“My father’s reason for starting the foundation was simple,” Tim Callahan said. “He made a good living in Cleveland and felt he owed the community a return, and that’s something we always try to keep in mind. It’s pretty simple calculus in my mind. If you’ve been fortunate and the community helped you to be successful, what a great thing to turn around and help your community.”