Alumnus Carl W. Johnson Endows Faculty Chair

L-R: Lisa Alvarez-Cohen, Sue Ollweiler (Foundation Executive Director) and Samer Madanat
L-R: Lisa Alvarez-Cohen, Sue Ollweiler (Foundation Executive Director) and Samer Madanat

The Carl W. Johnson Foundation has made a major gift to UC Berkeley to endow the Carl W. Johnson Chair in Civil Engineering within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The gift will also support the Civil and Environmental Engineering Student Leadership Endowment (CEESLE), which provides reliable funding for the CEE graduates and undergraduates as they pursue their organizational and team activities.

The Carl W. Johnson Foundation was established by CEE alumnus Carl W. Johnson (CE  BS ’41).  With this gift, the Foundation honors Carl’s memory.  Carl passed away in 2001 at the age of 84.

“We are extremely grateful to Carl Johnson and his Foundation,” said CEE Chair Samer Madanat. “Our faculty and students will benefit from the gift of the Chair and from CEESLE for decades to come.”

Carl W. Johnson was the founder and president of the Carl W. Johnson Company, a firm of industrial and commercial contractors in Burbank, CA. 

Carl came from a humble background. He worked his way through UC Berkeley, living in a firehouse where he earned money to pay for his classes by sweeping the station.  His time at Berkeley was important to Carl; he displayed his Cal diploma prominently on his wall throughout his life.

Carl believed Berkeley shaped his character, teaching him the skills, the thought processes, and the ethics to go out and have a successful career. He always knew he was going to endow a Chair at Berkeley.

Carl’s life was strongly influenced by his father, a hard-working Swedish immigrant. Carl’s father owned a gym in Southern California frequented by Disney executives and animators. Carl inherited many greeting cards that feature Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck expressing a personal thanks or birthday wishes.     

“Carl always wanted to give back to the place that was so important to his life and his career,” said Sue Ollweiler, the Foundation’s Executive Vice President. “He would have especially loved helping out the students in such an immediate way. Because he struggled when he was a student, Carl would have understood what it means to remove financial obstacles so that students can concentrate on learning and building their skills. And he would have loved watching them compete!”

“Carl inspires us. His story furthers our resolve to give all of our students an education they will value their entire life,” said Madanat.

Below L-R: Lisa Alvarez-Cohen, Sue Ollweiler (Foundation Executive Director) and Samer Madanat

Published 12/03/2012