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Rutgers Engineering Building to be Named for Richard N. Weeks

At the groundbreaking on May 6 are, from left, Richard Edwards, chancellor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick; Robert Barchi, president, Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey; Richard N. Weeks, and Thomas Farris, dean of Rutgers School of Engineering.

At the groundbreaking on May 6 are, from left, Richard Edwards, chancellor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick; Robert Barchi, president, Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey; Richard N. Weeks, and Thomas Farris, dean of Rutgers School of Engineering.

The new flagship building of the School of Engineering at Rutgers University’s Busch, New Jersey campus will be named after Richard N. Weeks, chairman of Weeks Marine Inc. and a 1950 alumnus of the Rutgers School of Engineering. 

Groundbreaking for the new Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering took place on May 6.  Wielding shovels at the ceremony were Richard Edwards, chancellor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick; Robert Barchi, president, Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey; Richard N. Weeks, and Thomas Farris, dean of Rutgers School of Engineering.

The name was announced following a $10 million donation to the Rutgers University Foundation – $6 million from Richard Weeks and $4 million from an anonymous alumnus. 

The Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering will be a 100,000-square-foot facility that will house the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as well as laboratories for advanced manufacturing and environmentally sustainable resources and systems, such as robotics and water resources. A concept lab for undergraduate students to work together and build projects will be open to all students in every engineering discipline.  

Engineering image of the Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering. Image: SLAM Architects & Engineers, P.C.

“The space will provide an ideal environment for students to work together and ex-change ideas,” Richard Weeks said, at the groundbreaking.

He explained further: “The classrooms will go beyond the typical lecture hall space by ‘flip-ping’ the emphasis. Instead of faculty presentations, where students listen, faculty will present students with a problem to solve. This approach encourages students to think and ask questions. The building will impress prospective students, parents and counselors, who will encourage the best students to apply to Rutgers, and my hope is that it will contribute to the future success of Rutgers.”

“The roots of the Weeks family are founded in the commitments made during the progressive era to provide excellent educational opportunities to all, regardless of their economic circumstances,” Weeks concluded.

Richard N. Weeks, chairman of Weeks Marine Inc., is a 1950 graduate of the Rutgers School of Engineering.

Richard Weeks’ parents, Magdalen Weeks and Richard B. Weeks, attended the “mag-net schools” of their era in New York City – Townsend Harris Hall, Hunter High School, City and Hunter colleges. These experiences are at the foundations of the Weeks family and corporate cultures; together with many similar family stories, these experiences go to the heart of what makes the U.S. such a special place.

 “This is the first time that the School of Engineering will have a building named for an alumnus,” Dean Thomas Farris said. “We will tell Mr. Weeks’ story in this building, as well as the stories of other alumni who are leaders in their fields. These stories will inspire our students, showing them how they too can do what Mr. Weeks and others have done with their Rutgers engineering degrees.”

After graduating with a civil engineering degree in 1950, Weeks joined the family business, which started in 1919 as a stevedoring company. During his time, it has grown into one of the largest marine construction, dredging and tunneling organizations in North America. 

Under the management of Dick Weeks and his son, Richard S. Weeks, the company acquired Healy Tibbitts Builders Inc. in 1989, and the dredging equipment of American Dredging Company in 1993, and of T.L. James in 1998, establishing a dredging fleet consisting of hopper, hydraulic and mechanical equipment that made the company one of the largest dredging con-tractors in the U.S., routinely performing major projects of channel deepening, beach restoration, channel maintenance and storm protection on all coasts. The additional acquisition of McNally Construction Inc., a leading Canadian tunnel and marine contractor, in 2011, has further expanded Weeks Marine’s equipment fleet and capabilities. 

Its heavy marine construction and salvage equipment was used on such high profile projects as transporting the debris from the destroyed World Trade Center from Manhattan to Staten Island, recovering the stricken U.S. Air-ways plane that Captain Chesley Sullenberger safely ditched in the Hudson River, transporting the Space Shuttle Enterprise by barge from Kennedy Airport to its home at New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and dismantling the Seaside Heights roller coaster swept out to sea by Hurricane Sandy. 

Farris noted that the building’s name also honors Weeks’ father and son, both named Richard. His son, Richard S. Weeks, serves as the company’s president.

Richard N. Weeks has been a regular contributor to the School of Engineering, including a 2010 gift that funded a soil and sediment management laboratory addressing environmentally responsible dredging to increase port capacity and accommodate larger ships.

Farris said that the new building, expected to be completed in 2017, will make Rutgers more competitive in attracting talent to the school.

“Having a state-of-the-art facility will speak very strongly to potential students, their parents and the faculty we recruit going forward. It will also boost our reputation among New Jersey’s high schools and change the way counselors and teachers encourage their best students to consider Rutgers,” he said.

Farris also notes that the building supports the priority that Rutgers’ strategic plan places on engineering, promoting interdisciplinary re-search that generates large-scale federal funding. These capabilities will encourage startup companies and established industries to work with Rutgers on innovations that boost their competitiveness.  

(Sources for this article include Weeks Marine Inc. and Rutgers University.)

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