Friedman Family Visiting Professionals Program

A program endowed by the Friedman Family to foster better understanding and communication between and among earthquake practitioners and academics

Objectives

  • improve the understanding of students and faculty of the active professional earthquake engineering and risk reduction community;
  • enhance the understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of earthquake engineering;
  • increase the professional’s understanding of the educational process;
  • utilize the unique intellectual resources of EERI to broker useful relationships; and
  • use the resources of EERI to help students understand and consider professional careers associated with earthquake engineering and earthquake risk reduction.

Background

David A. Friedman

In 1996 the EERI Endowment Committee, now known as the Initiatives Development Committee, first established a Visiting Professional Program. The purpose of this program was to match potential visiting professionals with host institutions, usually universities, for a two to three day workshop of current topics related to earthquake engineering and earthquake risk reduction. This exchange was meant to be part lecture and part informal discussion with faculty and students. The visiting professionals came from a wide range of disciplines, including engineering, earth science, seismology, architecture, planning, public policy and the social sciences.

In 1998, upon the death of Nicholas (Nick) Forell, his family asked that donations be made in his memory to sponsor the Visiting Professional program. Nick had been instrumental in creating this program. Nick’s passion and desire for knowledge created an atmosphere in which he challenged himself and others to continually learn and grow and it is in this spirit that his family felt these donations would carry on Nick’s wishes. EERI received over $10,000 in donations and was able to send 10 professionals to speak at universities throughout the country.

In 2001, David A. Friedman, of Forell/Elsesser Engineers, and his family endowed the program with $250,000. This generous gift was made with the intention that sufficient interest would be generated to keep the program running in perpetuity. At the time the gift was made, the name of the program was formally changed to the Friedman Family Visiting Professional Program. David’s participation as a visiting professional prompted him to endow this program, to ensure that it benefit students and professionals in the future, as he found the experience mutually rewarding.

The Friedman family has a history of social activism and philanthropic support of nonprofit organizations in the areas of economic development, homelessness, and housing. The Family has also endowed the Howard A. Friedman Visiting Professional program in the Department of Architecture, College of Environmental Design, at the University of California, Berkeley.

Since 1997, 28 universities have participated in the program; 29 professionals have made over 75 visits.