Transforming the Environment

Rick and Linda Fornelli invest in the success of engineering faculty

By Mary Rankin and Ariana Mihesuah

“Dad always believed an engineering education provided an excellent opportunity for employment, but could also be good educational basis for any chosen profession.”

-Richard Fornelli ’72,’73, civil engineering

To mark his father’s struggle and determination for a college education, and recognize the people and institution that helped make it possible for his father and himself, Rick Fornelli and his wife Linda Fornelli of Carlsbad, California, have established the Anthony D. and Richard A. Fornelli Engineering Faculty Fund.

Their gift will assist in recruiting and retaining the highest quality faculty for the College of Engineering at Kansas State University, as well as honor father and son K-State civil engineering graduates, the late Tony ’33, and Rick ’72, ’73 Fornelli.

“Although we originally considered providing a student scholarship gift, the need for quality faculty in the engineering school is a priority,” Rick said. “This excellent civil engineering program helped both my dad and me obtain our education and have successful professions.”

Tony Fornelli, Rick’s father, graduated from Cherokee Community High School in 1928 and planned to pursue a career as a draftsman; he did not have the funds to attend college. Tony’s track coach encouraged him to set a higher goal to further his education and contacted the newly hired K-State coach, Ward Haylett, for help with enrolling Tony in college. Tony received a track scholarship and was able to attend K-State. He graduated in 1933 and began his 40-plus year engineering career. “My father’s career as a civil engineer, and his concern about the environment and pollution issues, heavily influenced my career choice,” Rick said. Tony’s influence in this career direction can clearly be seen, as of his four sons, three are civil engineers, and three of his five grandsons are engineers.

While attending K-State, Rick worked with his major professor, Larry Schmid, to develop an extended aeration treatment facility for small communities. After completing his graduate studies, he joined CH2M Hill in Corvallis, Oregon, as an environmental engineer designing water and wastewater facilities.

“Linda and I want K-State to be a leader in environmental engineering and to continue to produce down-to-earth doers with a practical approach to addressing the world’s environmental issues. Civil engineers who solve problems, not just talk about solutions.”

Linda is the only member of her family not to complete a degree from K-State; she has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Kansas. Linda was an instructor for several years in the nursing program at what is now known as Manhattan Area Technical College. She and a colleague developed the instructional guidelines and certifying exams for health aids in Kansas.

Rick currently serves on the College of Engineering Advisory Council, where he hopes his role helps “to promote interest in environmental engineering and provide insight to practical approaches to solving environmental problems.”

The Anthony D. and Richard A. Fornelli Engineering Faculty Fund is to be used to recognize one outstanding faculty member with the Fornelli Engineering Professorship, or award up to four Keystone Research Scholars or Cornerstone Teaching Scholars faculty awards. First preference will be given to civil engineering faculty involved in water resources and/or environmental engineering. 


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