ChE'59, MS ChE'63
Long before the global workplace became commonplace, Gerald Stevenson, ChE’59, MS ChE’63, was using his chemical engineering degrees to build processing plants all over the world. There was nothing he enjoyed more than seeing a global team come together.
“It was a great thrill to arrive at a collegial decision with fellow board members and others from India or Venezuela or Ireland,” says Stevenson, a native of Salem, Ill., who attended Rolla at the recommendation of a family friend who was a Texaco executive and Rolla graduate.
Stevenson was active as president of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, served as a Student Council officer, and found a mentor in Dr. Frank Conrad, an influential chemical engineering professor.
“He had worked in industry so he brought practical experience to the classroom,” says Stevenson. “He was a mentor and friend. A lot of alumni share my feelings about him.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, Stevenson began his career with Shell Oil Co., then returned to Rolla to earn a master’s degree before joining International Minerals and Chemical Corp. (IMC), where he helped develop phosphate mining and processing operations in Florida — and eventually in India.
When a former IMC colleague founded a consulting group in Canada and England, he asked Stevenson to join the company. During his time with Davy International, later Davy McKee Corp., Stevenson grew the company’s chemical plant contracting services. He also expanded his circle of professional peers through the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program, in addition to taking graduate business courses at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. These international experiences laid the groundwork for the rest of Stevenson’s global career.
“A lot of the value at Harvard and INSEAD was in getting to know people from all over the world,” he says. “There were 160 in my Harvard class, half from the U.S. and half from other countries.”
Stevenson joined Jacobs Engineering Group in 1984 and served in leadership roles including group vice president of two U.S. divisions, senior vice president of operations, and senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing.
“It’s an investment in the future of our country and the world beyond our borders ... Companies hire Rolla graduates because they are problem solvers with hands-on experiences who can make the transition to the real world immediately.”
“It was a pretty Herculean task at the time,” says Stevenson, who helped grow the company’s footprint as a global leader in technical and construction services. After retiring from Jacobs, Stevenson founded Summit Prairie Corp., a venture capital company with investments in farmland, oil wells and medical technology.
Throughout his career, Stevenson made giving back a priority. He served on the charter executive board of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Engineering Construction Contracting Division, and on the boards of the United Way of Central Florida and the University of South Florida, in addition to many corporate boards.
His Missouri S&T leadership roles include serving on the Board of Trustees, the Miner Alumni Association board of directors as president, and as a founding member of the Academy of Chemical Engineers. He received an Award of Professional Distinction in 1981 and an honorary doctorate in 2003.
The Miner Alumni Association endowment Stevenson and his wife, Jeannie, established — the Gerald L. and Eugenia Bradford Stevenson Endowed Scholarship — encourages out-of-state students to attend S&T and major in chemical or biochemical engineering.
“It’s an investment in the future of our country and the world beyond our borders,” says Stevenson. “Companies hire Rolla graduates because they are problem solvers with hands-on experiences who can make the transition to the real world immediately.”