A Gift for a Cleaner World

April 22, 2021 Hub staff report

A 10-year, $75M investment will drive sustainable energy research and education

portrait of Ralph O'Connor and his wife Becky in front of the Red Sails statue.
Ralph O’Connor and his wife, Becky, are pictured with the Red Sails sculpture they donated to the university in 2013.

With a $20 million gift from the estate of trustee emeritus and alumnus Ralph S. O’Connor, the Johns Hopkins University and its Whiting School of Engineering announced the establishment of the Ralph S. O’Connor Sustainable Energy Institute (ROSEI) to serve as the university’s interdisciplinary home for ongoing research and education aimed at creating clean, renewable, and sustainable energy technologies.

This ambitious and wide-ranging effort — dedicated to helping chart a new energy future and addressing the driving forces of global climate change — is built on the O’Connor gift as the catalyst of a new $75 million, 10-year total investment by the Whiting School and the university in energy related research and education.

ROSEI will educate future energy leaders and support implementation, markets, and polices that promote an affordable and equitable green energy future for a more resilient world.

The institute’s activities will focus on three primary themes:

“This effort has the potential to be a game-changer in terms of advancing energy research and policy,” says Ed Schlesinger, the Whiting School’s Benjamin T. Rome Dean. “But I know we’ll realize other benefits, too, such as attracting top faculty members and the most talented graduate students, expanding our academic offerings and student research opportunities, and providing targeted direct funding for energy-themed research.”

Ralph O’Connor was born in Pasadena, California, in 1926 and graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. O’Connor was an entrepreneur, civic leader, and philanthropist. He was a trustee emeritus of the university and a dedicated supporter of Johns Hopkins, giving generously over several decades in support of financial aid, endowed faculty chairs, athletics, art, awards for undergraduate entrepreneurs, and the Homewood campus recreation center that bears his name. O’Connor died in 2018 at age 92.

Read the full story on the Hub. 

Topics: Alumni, Faculty and Staff, Whiting School of Engineering, Fuel Discovery