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College of Engineering
UI Foundation News
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Release: Immediate

UI Engineering Building named for Seamans family

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A $3 million contribution to the University of Iowa Foundation from 1971 UI engineering graduate Gary F. Seamans and his wife, Camille Seamans, St. Charles, Ill., will name the entire UI Engineering Building complex in honor of Seamans and his family, UI President Mary Sue Coleman announced today.

Coleman said, "The Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences will pay tribute to one of the college's most generous and accomplished alumni, while reminding future generations of the limitless opportunities made possible by a UI education. Gary Seamans embodies the 'can-do' spirit that has always fueled our engineering students, faculty, and alumni, and that same spirit is leading the college into a very bright future."

Seamans is chairman and chief executive officer of Westell Technologies, Inc., of Aurora, Ill., a leader in the emerging field of high-speed Internet access and video transmission to the home using existing telephone lines. An Iowa City native, Seamans graduated from City High School in 1966.

"I'm probably a textbook case of a small-town boy who has been blessed with big-city good fortune," Seamans said of his life and career, "and I owe much of my success to the UI College of Engineering. The facilities were poor even when I was a student here, but there was genuine mentoring and affection between faculty and students. We need to encourage more of this type of communication and teamwork, and that's what the building modernization project is all about. Cammy and I are immensely proud to have our family's name associated with this outstanding new facility, which is going to do so much to prepare Iowa's students for 21st century engineering."

Richard K. Miller, dean of the College of Engineering, praised Seamans's generosity as well as his involvement in the fund-raising campaign for the building project. "As chair of our campaign steering committee, Gary has provided insightful and energetic leadership from the very beginning," Miller said. "He never lost sight of our goal of creating a student-centered environment that would secure the UI's position as one of the very best engineering colleges in the country."

After receiving his bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering from the UI in 1971, Seamans worked for AT&T for 10 years. He served for three years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he was in charge of missile systems research and development at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. He was named vice president of MCI in Chicago in 1984, and subsequently left MCI to become CEO of Westell in 1987. In 1995 Seamans was inducted into the Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame, and in 1996 he was named the Midwest regional "High Technology Entrepreneur of the Year."

He is a member of the UI Foundation Board of Directors, the UI Alumni Association, The Presidents Club (recognizing the UI's most generous contributors), the College of Engineering's Distinguished Engineering Alumni Academy, and is serving as chair of the steering committee for the College of Engineering Building Campaign. He received the UI Alumni Association's Distinguished Young Alumnus Award in 1977. Seamans also serves on the board of directors of the National Engineering Consortium.

Camille Kensicki Seamans, a native of Dekalb, Ill., earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Northern Illinois University in 1974. She is the Director of Human Resources for the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She also serves on the board of directors of the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical School. The couple's son, Shawn, graduated from the University of Iowa College of Business Administration in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in finance and is in the management training program at Standard Parking Systems in Chicago.

"We're extremely pleased at the progress of the campaign so far," said Darrell Wyrick, president of the UI Foundation and a 1956 UI engineering graduate. "Alumni understand the pressing need for this modernization and are eager to support something of such vital and lasting importance to the college. We are especially pleased that someone of Gary Seamans' young age is stepping forward with a gift of this magnitude. His generosity will surely inspire others to add their support to this worthwhile project."

Designed by Iowa City architects Neumann Monson, P.C., and the Los Angeles firm Anshen + Allen, the modernization project will preserve much of the original 1906 Engineering Building while adding classrooms, labs, and student-oriented study and meeting areas. The project will be completed in stages, and renovation has already begun on some of the interior portions of the building. Demolition of existing structures on the site will begin later this fall. The project is on schedule, according to college officials, with completion of both renovation and new construction set for 2001.

The UI Foundation is the preferred channel of support for private contributions to all areas of the University of Iowa. Foundation staff work with alumni and friends to provide capital funds, scholarships, and other forms of support for the UI.