Marquette named the Opus College of Engineering in September to honor the life and legacy of alumnus Gerald “Gerry” Rauenhorst, Eng ’51, who founded The Opus Group,® a family of commercial real estate development, construction and design companies headquartered in Minneapolis.
President Michael Lovell said, “It’s clear Gerry embodied the Bible verse ‘to whom much is given, much is required,’ and all of Marquette has benefited from his leadership and support.” The university celebrated Rauenhorst’s impact with an event that featured a panel presentation with engineering leaders who discussed how their field is transforming the world.
A Better Way
Gerry Rauenhorst committed his legacy to finding “a better way.” In his book with that title, he wrote: “One evening … I blurted out, ‘There has to be a better way.’ A way that is honest. And straightforward. Where integrity counts.” Those are the principles on which Rauenhorst founded his company more than 60 years ago, and they are the same values that guided his philanthropy.
“The generosity of Gerry Rauenhorst and his family has transformed the way we educate our students and prepare them to address global challenges,” says Dr. Kristina Ropella, interim Opus Dean of Engineering. “Because of Gerry’s investment in our people, places and programs, our work is now more visible and impactful. We are providing more opportunities for the local community and local industry to partner with our faculty and students to solve problems, make a difference and serve humanity.”
Rauenhorst was Marquette’s longest-serving member of the Board of Trustees. “Gerry is known throughout the United States as a man who constructs buildings,” former President Robert A. Wild, S.J., once said. “However, at Marquette, he is better described as a creator and builder of a better future for generations of our students.”
“The Rauenhorst/Opus legacy is foundational for the college,” says Dr. Chris Foley, professor and chair of civil, construction and environmental engineering. “It has created opportunities for the college to take on more significant roles in solving national and international engineering problems, enabling our undergraduate students to become active participants in solving these problems, and becoming the thought leaders of tomorrow.”
OPUS College of Engineering
Initiatives with leadership in mind
Funded by the Opus Foundation, the program provides nine full-tuition scholarships to first-generation students, many from organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Cristo Rey network of Jesuit high schools. Marquette will eventually have 16 Opus Scholars.
Marquette is collaborating with the KEEN Program, a collaboration of U.S. engineering universities driven to instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineering students. It is focused on preparing students to identify new technology-based business opportunities that create value for a global society. The outreach is funded by the Kern Family Foundation.
E-Lead extends the technical training of engineering students to also focus on soft skills and their development as individuals. Academically qualified students apply to E-Lead the fall of sophomore year after completing a required professional development course. Each student takes a one-credit leadership course each of the program’s three years and completes an industry internship, co-op, research internship or major service project; creates a personal leadership development portfolio; shadows chief executives in technical industries; attends a national leadership workshop; and completes a senior capstone project.