First Endowed Professorship at Rutgers-Camden Launched with Gift from Alumnus and Wife in Honor of Beloved Professor

First Endowed Professorship at Rutgers-Camden Launched with Gift from Alumnus and Wife in Honor of Beloved Professor

For Immediate Release

CAMDEN -- A husband and wife who met while students at Rutgers-Camden have contributed a multimillion-dollar gift to create the campus first endowed professorship, which honors the memory of a respected faculty member and enhances Rutgers national reputation as a leader in the field of computational biology.

Joseph S. and Loretta L. Lopez met at Rutgers-Camden in a geology class as undergraduate students - she studying psychology, he pursuing a degree in mathematics. That experience launched a lifelong journey that would lead to marriage, three children, four grandchildren, and an innovative, successful career in computer science and engineering.

In recognition of Rutgers transformative role in their lives, the Lopezes have created the Joseph and Loretta Lopez Endowed Professorship in Mathematics in Honor of Professor Leonard Bidwell as an opportunity for Rutgers-Camden to touch other lives in a profound manner.

This endowed professorship is the first on the Rutgers-Camden campus. It will allow Rutgers-Camden to attract a top mathematician to support the campus growing program in computational biology. Rutgers-Camden already is a leader in this expanding discipline, which applies computational modeling to the biosciences.

This gift by Joseph and Loretta Lopez truly is visionary in its scope, says Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick. Through the generous support of the Lopezes, Rutgers-Camden will extend its ability to provide students with unparalleled access to the very best scholarship in this field, while also contributing greatly to the research that will lead to innovations in the biosciences and technology for generations to come.

Sylvia Bidwell offers similar sentiments in praise of the endowed professorship honoring her father. Mr. Lopez had my father as a professor back in the 1960s. I always knew my father had been such an incredible influence to so many people in his life. This professorship in his honor has touched our family so much. It just shows how one person can touch so many peoples lives in such a special way, she says.

We wanted to give back to something that gave value to us, says Joseph of the gift. The degree that I got from Rutgers-Camden was beneficial to me and helped essentially to launch my career.

That career extended through the computer engineering revolution that produced the programming and technology of the twenty-first century. Upon graduating from Rutgers-Camden in 1964, Lopez began his swift rise up the ranks within the organizations that would shape technology for America and the world. He became a first-level engineering manager at GE - not an easy thing to achieve just five years out of college, he notes - and then went to RCA to take a lead role on the engineering team that developed the AEGIS system.

Landis and Gyr, a Swiss-owned company which later would merge with Siemens, tapped Joseph to run a subsidiary organization and advance the firms reputation for producing supervisory control systems for electric utilities. He would become vice president of engineering and then president.

In 1982, Lopez then resigned from Landis and Gyr to launch his own firm, ILEX, which he sold to L-3 Communications in 1998 and continued to run as president of L-3ILEX until May 2005.

While the Lopez family lives in Jupiter, Fla., and Saratoga, Ca., their roots in New Jersey continue to run deep Joseph lived in Oaklyn, and Loretta lived in Merchantville. Many of those memories center on their time at Rutgers-Camden.

After Josephs first year at Rutgers-Camden, he took some time off to work with his fathers neon sign company, Lopez Signs, which was located in Camden. After 15 months, he returned to his studies and sprinted to catch up.

I signed up for 19 to 23 credits each semester, and graduated in two years, he recalls.

During that time, Lopez took classes taught by Leonard Bidwell, a new mathematics professor who made a lasting impact on a student who would become a leader in the computer engineering field. More than 40 years later, Lopez remembers fondly his time with Bidwell. He was genuinely interested in teaching, in explaining the complex subject matter to his students, says Lopez. He was kind and caring, and a fair grader who gave you what you deserved.

Bidwell earned awards honoring his teaching at Rutgers-Camden, which he continued until his death in 2002. When the Lopezes considered how they might honor both Bidwell and their own experiences at Rutgers-Camden, the endowed professorship in mathematics seemed a natural answer to their equation.

This generous endowment by Joseph and Loretta Lopez honors the memory of Dr. Bidwell and provides a strong foundation of excellence upon which future Rutgers-Camden students will draw for generations, says Margaret Marsh, interim provost of the Rutgers-Camden campus. We are indebted deeply to the Lopezes for their support, which will advance Rutgers leadership in the field of computational biology.

My Rutgers degree in mathematics helped to prepare me for the career that I chose, says Lopez. Today, a computer science degree is available for that career, but back then, degrees in mathematics, physics, or engineering were required.

Loretta and I are proud to endow this faculty position, which will help Rutgers-Camden advance as a leader in intellectual innovation.

In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate students at Rutgers-Camden, the Joseph and Loretta Lopez Professor in Mathematics will participate actively in the Systems Biology Institute, a state-of-the-art Camden facility that will promote collaborative scientific advancements among researchers from Rutgers, UMDNJ, Cooper University Hospital, the Coriell Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Funded by a $50 million appropriation by the New Jersey Legislature, the facility will be constructed near Cooper Hospital in Camden and will be managed by Rutgers.

The Camden campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, enrolls 5,300 students in 34 undergraduate and 13 graduate programs taught by world-class faculty acknowledged widely as leaders in their disciplines. The 40-acre campus is located in the heart of the vibrant Camden Waterfront.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences is the largest academic unit at the Rutgers-Camden campus, attracting students pursuing baccalaureate, masters, and PhD degrees across a wide spectrum of disciplines. The unit emphasizes opportunities for students to work closely with faculty researchers on campus and at venues around the world. Through the Camden Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers is recognized as an international leader in childhood studies.