Distinguished Alumni Award


Thomas J. Marriott Jr. 68BSChE

2016 Service Award

Thomas J. Marriott Jr., 68BSChE, a safety and manufacturing/plant operations expert in Pennsylvania, has used his long track record of professional success to help University of Iowa students eager to follow in his footsteps.

The global consultant and president of Hawkeye Consulting Services—which assists manufacturing companies in the chemical, energy, and refining
industries—regularly returns to his alma mater to share his expertise, advice, and insight. Though Marriott graduated from the UI Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering in 1968 and has traveled the world, neither time nor distance has dimmed his devotion to the university.

After completing his UI degree, Marriott spent nearly four decades in a variety of roles for Rohm and Haas Co. and Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., that focused primarily on chemicals and industrial gases production. During these years, he also graduated from the Advanced Executive Program at Northwestern University and traveled to many countries in Asia, the South Pacific, Central and South America, and North and South Africa.

Marriott reconnected with the UI College of Engineering in 2008 when he joined the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (CBE) advisory board, and this involvement sparked an idea that has changed many Iowa engineering students' lives.

"Because of Tom Marriott's continued efforts, my chemical engineering peers and I are well-equipped for a bright future."

"Based on his experiences with our board, Tom decided that our students needed more advice from professional engineers," says C. Alan Guymon, the Sharon K. Tinker professor and executive officer of the UI Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. "He has used his great enthusiasm…for the university and our students to establish a truly transformative mentoring program."

The four-year-old program, which matches professional engineering mentors starting sophomore year with students from the chemical and biochemical engineering department, began with 24 volunteer advisors whom Marriott helped recruit. Since then, it has continued to evolve and grow, with at present approximately 50 mentors and 100 CBE students involved as mentees in the program. Without doubt, the CBE mentoring program has become a model for other UI engineering areas and possibly for other university engineering colleges.

"The mentorship program that Tom established has had a profound impact on my academic decisions," says Nathan Schuchert, a UI chemical and biochemical engineering student. "Because of Tom Marriott's continued efforts, my chemical engineering peers and I are well-equipped for a bright future."

Marriott also has found other ways to help encourage students' future success. During a departmental regional meeting, he was a safety evaluator for the student cars competing in the ChemE Car Competition and a judge for the Student Research Presentation Competition. He also serves on a yearly panel that assesses chemical engineering students' capstone design projects.

In addition, Marriott and his wife established the Tom and Cam Marriott Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Scholarship in 2013. "Looking back, I really could have used some advice from someone working in the profession," says Mariott, also an avid Hawkeye fan and longtime season-ticket holder. "I'm retired, I love the University of Iowa, and I wanted to give back."

Thanks to his inspired thinking and tireless volunteerism, Thomas J. Marriott Jr. has paved the way for new generations of UI College of Engineering graduates to make their own indelible marks.

Marriott is a member of the UI Alumni Association's Old Capitol Club and the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.


About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.


Related Content

Museums around the world have exhibited the work of the famed painter, sculptor, and printmaker. Now, his art is also featured on the campus where he began to find his voice.

The Tippie College of Business graduate is vice president of consumer creation strategy at the sportswear company's headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

L.A.-based artist Charles Ray to receive CLAS Alumni Fellow award, give talks this month. Unpainted sculpture by Charles Ray, 1997, fiberglass and paint, 60x78x171 inches. Photograph by Josh White and courtesy of the Matthew Marks Gallery. Charles Ray (75BFA) was walking through the UI physics and astronomy department one day when he came across an inspiring scene. Ray, an art student whose curiosity extended far beyond the studio, hoped to hitch a ride out to the observatory for some evening stargazing. Instead, he found a group of students constructing a satellite bound for a space mission. "It just blew my mind," recalls Ray. Just as mind-blowing were the sculptures Ray was creating across the river, years before he would establish himself as one of the world's most important artists. For one physics-defying piece, he fashioned a 2,000-pound slab of concrete atop a slender tree trunk. For another, he dropped a massive wrecking ball onto a crumpled steel plate, as if Sputnik had just crashed outside the old Art Building. Charles Ray "It was such a formative experience for me," the Los Angeles-based sculptor says of his time in Iowa City. "It did something to my soul and my brain. Even though I was young, the university and my mentors gave me a great deal of independence. My curiosity was endless." A professor emeritus at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, Ray returns to campus this month to speak and receive the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Alumni Fellow award. Rather than just waxing nostalgic about his time at Iowa, Ray has organized a three-day lecture series April 16-18 with two fellow art scholars. Iowa native Graham Harman, a philosophy professor at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, will open the series by discussing his theory of aesthetics known as object-oriented ontology. On the second day, Ray will speak about the nature of sculptural objects. And Richard Neer, an art historian at the University of Chicago, will bookend the series by lecturing on the question of provenance, or art's origin. Ray will also give a separate public lecture April 17 in Art Building West titled "My Soul is an Object." Recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation, Ray is known for his strange and enigmatic sculptures so loaded with nods to the past that they've been called "catnip for art historians." His 2014 Horse and Rider, for example, is a 10-ton solid stainless steel work in the tradition of a war memorial, but depicts the artist slouch-shouldered atop a weary nag. Ray is also famous for his wry re-imaginings of familiar objects, like the 47-foot-long replica of a red toy fire truck that he parked in front of New York's Whitney Museum of American Art for a 1993 biennial exhibition. Ray and his studio team often spend years working on a given piece, which can fetch as much as seven figures at auction. His sculptures can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among other major U.S. museums. Ray is currently preparing for a retrospective show in Paris next year?one of several upcoming international exhibitions. Isabel Barbuzza, UI associate professor of sculpture, describes Ray's work as beautiful and witty, while using scale in unexpected ways. Ray's 8-foot-tall Boy with Frog?commissioned for a prominent spot in Venice, Italy, then removed after some controversy (a version now stands outside the Getty Museum in Los Angeles)?is among Barbuzza's favorites. "His sculptures have a presence you can only see when you're in front of the work," she says. "They're very moving, and to me it's interesting what happens with scale?the viewer relates to the piece in a very profound way." Steve McGuire (83MA, 90PhD), director of the School of Art and Art History, says few others have contributed more to contemporary art than Ray. "This is a big deal for us to be able to celebrate his career," McGuire says of presenting Ray with the alumni fellow award. "I think it's pretty meaningful to him, and of course it's really meaningful for our school." A Chicago native, Ray arrived at Iowa as a gifted artist but hardly a model student. Ray's dyslexia made schoolwork a chore, and his parents had sent him to military school with the hopes of straightening out his academics. It was at the UI, however, where he finally found his language in the studio and, in turn, his footing in the classroom. "Through the syntax of sculpture, I could express myself intellectually for the first time," Ray says. "That gave me a kind of confidence." Ray studied under UI art school pillars like Wallace Tomasini, Julius Schmidt, and Hans Breder. But it was his bond with Roland Brenner?a South African professor and former pupil of sculptor Anthony Caro?that proved to be the most influential. Ray still remembers his first sculpture in Brenner's class, a steel configuration with long stems and discs at the end. Its bouquet-like resemblance didn't sit well with Brenner. "That showed me you made something, but didn't want to discover something," Ray recalls Brenner telling him. "Don't ever do that in my class again." The two would become lifelong friends. Iowa City is a different place today than the 1970s, particularly the transformation of the arts campus after the flood of 2008, Ray says. Still, his visits back to campus over the years always remind him of those crisp and clear Iowa nights at the observatory and gazing out the studio window while exploring the frontiers of sculpture. "It feels like you can see right through the galaxy when you look up," Ray says. Handheld bird by Charles Ray, 2006, painted steel, 2x4x3 inches The UI is home to six pieces by Ray, all found in the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building and displayed through the university's Art on Campus program. Among them is Handheld bird, a tiny but ornate piece depicting a creature in an embryonic state. Lunchtime Lecture Series What: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences fellow Charles Ray and two guest art scholars?Graham Harman and Richard Neer?will deliver a series of public lectures this month at the UI. When, where: 12:20 p.m. April 16?18 at Art Building West, room 240, 141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City More information: events.uiowa.edu/26915 My Soul is an Object: Artist Talk with Charles Ray What: A public lecture by renowned sculptor and UI alumnus Charles Ray When, where: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 17, at Art Building West, room 240, 141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City More about Ray: charlesraysculpture.com/ Support the UI School of Art and Art History

Read stories of Hawkeyes making a difference in Iowa and around the world.

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Statement unless you have disabled them in your browser.