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Renowned civil engineer Jack Stephens dies

- September 4, 2007

Jack Stephens, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, died Aug. 6. He was 83.

Stephens, who lived in Storrs, joined the University faculty in 1950 and retired in 1989. He was head of the civil engineering department from 1965 to 1972.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UConn in 1947, and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University in 1955 and 1959, respectively.

Stephens helped shape many facets of Connecticut’s transportation-related governance and research infrastructure.

He was instrumental in the state’s decision to fund the Connecticut Cooperative Highway Research Program at UConn, run jointly with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, in 1962, and the Connecticut Transportation Institute in Storrs in 1974, where he was its first director.

As part of the Institute, he established the Technology Transfer (T2) Center, which provides training for town employees, and the Connecticut Advanced Pavement Laboratory, which researches and tests hot-mix bituminous concrete.

“Following Jack’s distinguished career, I was honored to induct him into the School of Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Engineers this past spring,” says Erling Smith, interim dean of the School of Engineering.

“He was an alumnus of national distinction and attained an exemplary record as a vital faculty member and an active emeritus. Jack was a great colleague. We’ll all miss him.”

Peter McFadden, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, described Stephens as a “gifted teacher and effective leader.

He impressed me as an educator who recognized our obligation to the citizens who support us. His scholarship and research can be seen in the roads of our state.”

He adds, “You never met anyone with a smile more ready than his.”

Stephens was a life member and past president of the Connecticut section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, past president of the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers, and past chair of the Transportation Committee of the Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering.

Stephens received the UConn Alumni Association’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the Engineering Alumni Award, and the Connecticut section of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Benjamin Wright Award.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Virginia, four children, several grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Memorial donations may be made to the Jack E. Stephens Scholarship Fund, with checks payable to the UConn Foundation, and mailed to the University of Connecticut Foundation Inc., 2390 Alumni Drive, Storrs, CT 06269-3206.

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