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Alumnus seeking donors for CEPAC25 scholarship fund

Ken Nelson and CME Department Head Abolfazl (Kouros) Mohammadian with a student receiving a scholarship at UIC

UIC alumnus Ken Nelson is spearheading an effort to establish an endowment called the CEPAC25 Scholarship to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Civil Engineering Professional Advisory Council (CEPAC), which is the department’s industry advisor board.

The board was established in 1999 and its members include professional practitioners — many of whom are UIC alumni — and civil engineering faculty members. Its ranks include leaders in the construction, environmental, geotechnical, materials, structures, transportation, and water resources fields and represents private companies and government agencies throughout the Chicago region. It is geared toward enhancing the undergraduate experience by creating connections for UIC students in the professional community, providing an industry perspective on the curriculum, and participating in student projects and activities.

Many of the CEPAC members also contribute to scholarships, which are awarded to students annually at the CEPAC Scholarship Reception and Awards Dinner.

“We came up with the idea to get ten foundation donors to donate $2,500 each to reach $25,000, which would then create the endowed scholarship,” Nelson said, who noted that a foundation donor does not have to be a CEPAC member.

For the CEPAC 25 Foundation Scholarship, eight donors have already stepped up to contribute. Now, Nelson, who is working with UIC Distinguished Professor Farhad Ansari and CEPAC Chairperson Matt Hoffman, is seeking at least two more donors to make the scholarship come to fruition.

“Once we have reached $25,000 from the foundation donors, we plan to go out with a broad appeal to eventually get the CEPAC25 Scholarship to $50,000,” he added.

In addition to marking the 25th anniversary of CEPAC, Nelson wants to help more students especially after the recent pandemic, which saw the number of scholarship opportunities take a slight dip from previous years.

“I am most interested in the student,” he said. “What I like so much about UIC is we’ve got a lot of students that are first-generation students going to college, they are really hard workers, and a lot of them work while they go to school, and this is the person I want to help.”

If you’re interested in learning more or becoming involved, please contact Ken Nelson at