The Case School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University received an extraordinary gift from the Parker Hannifin Foundation: a $2 million commitment to create the Arthur L. Parker Endowed Chair in the electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) department. The position is named in honor of Parker Hannifin Corporation’s founder.
Ken Loparo, current chair of EECS at the Case School of Engineering, will be the first person to hold the chair.
“This endowed chair reinforces our company’s connection to Case Western Reserve and furthers our goal to support education in the communities where we do business,” said Parker Chairman, CEO and President Don Washkewicz. “Through this commitment, we are providing a foundation that we hope will inspire today’s students to become the inventors of tomorrow in the spirit of our founder Art Parker.”
Parker, a 1907 graduate of the Case Institute of Technology, founded the Parker Appliance Co. in a small Cleveland loft in 1918. The 33-year-old engineer had invented a pneumatic braking system for trucks and buses. Almost a century later, that same company, today known as Parker Hannifin Corporation, is a leading global manufacturer of motion and control technologies, employing 57,500 people in 50 countries and tallying annual sales of more than $13 billion.
“We have a shared vision in innovation, disruptive technology and ensuring that our product—the highly qualified workforce of tomorrow—is aligned with the needs of companies like Parker,” Case School of Engineering Dean Jeffrey Duerk said. “We greatly appreciate the foundation’s pledge to help us continue to advance our critical work in research and education.”
University officials say endowed, named professorships are critical to attracting and retaining top faculty members who elevate departmental rankings and reputation through cutting-edge research. They, in turn, draw the most promising students, who then become sought-after employees.
“The endowment provides not only salary support, but discretionary funds to kick-start special initiatives and opportunities, support graduate student travel to conferences and more,” Loparo said.
The university provides the company with students, interns, co-ops and employees and works cooperatively on projects, he said. Parker Hannifin, meanwhile, sponsors university events and supports scholarship and innovation in the university’s programs for engineering, medicine, nursing, management and law.
Loparo and Washkewicz attended Cleveland State University together in 1968. Both went on to pursue graduate degrees at Case Western Reserve and have maintained their friendship over the years.
Loparo earned a doctorate in systems and control engineering and joined the university’s engineering faculty in 1979. He has gone on to win multiple teaching and research awards. Loparo is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a distinction reserved for those who have achieved exemplary expertise in the field. He became chair of EECS in 2013.