Chemical engineering alum to endow professorship

October 1, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Gerald Skidmore, a Purdue University engineering alumnus, and his wife, Sarah, have given a $750,000 gift to the School of Chemical Engineering to be used for a named professorship.

Through Purdue's Faculty Fund for Excellence, the gift will be matched dollar for dollar, bringing the total for the professorship to $1.5 million.

"We are grateful to Gerald and Sarah Skidmore for this generous gift, which continues their long-term support of our school," said Arvind Varma, the Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld Head of Chemical Engineering and R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor. "By helping to attract or to retain outstanding faculty, this endowed professorship will positively impact our students in perpetuity."

Skidmore earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1954. In 2011 he received the Outstanding Chemical Engineer Award from the School of Chemical Engineering.

After serving as product sales manager with national responsibility for Archer Daniels Midland Co., Skidmore started his own business, Skidmore Enterprises, in 1963, selling machinery, chemicals, instrumentation, starches and soy products to a variety of industries. In 1971, the business became Skidmore Sales and Distributing Co. It is now one of the largest distributors of industrial food ingredients to the food industry with more than 2,000 line items, 150 suppliers and nearly 120 employees.

The Skidmores, now retired, live in Covington, Ky., and Naples, Fla.

"Purdue was my first and only choice for an engineering education. I was not disappointed," Skidmore said. "The opportunities available to me allowed not only a wonderful professional and technical education, but also the chance to interact with the other students and faculty to develop many of the skills necessary to succeed in the business world. I will always be grateful to Purdue for the fine education and wonderful campus experiences. My wife and I are delighted to have the opportunity to give back to Purdue."

The Faculty Fund for Excellence was established earlier this year to raise private gifts that will be matched by up to $7.25 million in university funds designated for faculty investment.

The program is designed to endow new professorships. Named and distinguished professorships offer a way for the university to recognize contributions by faculty to their areas of expertise.

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432,

Source: Arvind Varma, 765-494-4075,

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