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Chris and Barbara Claypool make lead gift to engineering campaign

May 24, 2017

When Ohio Northern University launched the “Campaign for Engineering: Building Impact at ONU,” 1972 engineering graduate Charles “Chris” Claypool, and his wife, Barbara, didn’t hesitate to make a lead gift to help get the initiative off the ground. After all, as a member of the team that completed a campaign feasibility study for ONU’s College of Engineering, Chris knew exactly how much support was needed.

Over the past four decades, Claypool has grown Claypool Electric Inc., the Lancaster, Ohio, company that his father founded in 1954, into a firm that employs more than 200 skilled craftspersons, along with engineers, designers, project managers and administrative staff who design, build and maintain electrical systems for manufacturing facilities, commercial establishments, educational facilities and universities.

The rise of Claypool Electric mirrors the Claypool’s philanthropic support of Chris’ alma mater. The Claypools have been steady annual givers to Ohio Northern since 1987, and in October 2015, the University honored their steadfast devotion by inducting them as Lifetime Members of the Henry Solomon Lehr Society. Established in 1974, the Lehr Society is the leading recognition society for donors who demonstrate exceptional generosity to ONU. Lifetime Members of the Lehr Society have donated more than $100,000 in gifts to ONU over their lifetimes.

The “Campaign for Engineering: Building Impact at ONU” will help fund a new academic building for the T.J. Smull College of Engineering. The 105,000-square-foot facility will be nearly twice the size of the current 55,000-square-foot Biggs Engineering Building and will feature space for collaboration, class projects and community-building, helping ONU remain on the cutting edge of educating engineers who make a difference.

For Chris, the new engineering building provides the same hope and promise for future innovation and discovery that he experienced as a teenager during the space race of the 1960s. In 1961, he watched in awe when President Kennedy announced to the world that the U.S. would be the first to send a man to the moon.

“It sparked my imagination,” he says. “Anything associated with NASA was golden in those days. I was a college student at ONU in 1969 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. That was a big day.”

ONU is poised for another big day in 2019. On that day students will begin classes in a place that is designed for them to learn in collaboration and community with space for them to grow as students and grow into working professionals.