Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1998-1999 index

Distributed January 12, 1999
Contact: Mark Nickel

Brown announces James R. Rice Endowed Fund for Solid Mechanics

A lead gift by two former graduate students has established the James R. Rice Endowment for Solid Mechanics at Brown University. The fund will support a unique, flexible faculty position and a graduate fellowship in the Division of Engineering.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Brown University today announced creation of the James R. Rice Endowment for Solid Mechanics to support a new faculty position and a new graduate fellowship in the Division of Engineering. The endowment honors Professor James R. Rice, who played an important role in building the national and international reputation of Brown's solid mechanics program during the early 1960s and 1970s.

"Brown owes a great debt of gratitude to faculty like James Rice, who have had a lasting impact on the University," said Brown President E. Gordon Gee. "This endowment will preserve the name and achievements of Professor Rice within the University community and will enhance the solid mechanics program to which he devoted so much of his energy and talent."

The initiative for the Rice Endowment and a major lead gift came from two former graduate students, David Hibbitt (Ph.D., 1972) and Paul Sorensen (Ph.D., 1978). Hibbitt and Sorensen are principals in the Pawtucket, R.I., firm Hibbitt, Karlsson & Sorensen Inc., developer of ABAQUS, the leading software for advanced finite element analysis.

"Drs. Hibbitt and Sorensen had a dual purpose in making this gift - to sustain a solid mechanics program of international caliber and to honor Professor Rice," said Rod Clifton, dean of engineering. "On behalf of the University and the Division of Engineering, I wish to thank them both for this magnificent initiative. Naming of the fund for Jim Rice is especially exciting for those of us who have been Jim's colleagues in Brown's Solid Mechanics Group, as we know firsthand the tremendous contributions he has made."

The Rice Endowment will provide uniquely flexible support for the solid mechanics program by funding a faculty position that will keep pace as a young faculty member's career matures. The Division of Engineering expects to appoint a young researcher and teacher to the faculty position in the year 2000. As that faculty member advances through the ranks, the professorship will grow in distinction as well, ultimately being designated as the James R. Rice Professorship in Solid Mechanics. The cycle is intended to repeat as successors move from junior to senior faculty positions. The graduate fellowship will be offered for the first time in September 1999.

Additional gifts from former graduate students of the solid mechanics program and from Rice's collaborators will be added to the fund.

James R. Rice

James R. Rice, who received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Lehigh University, began his academic career in 1964, joining the Solid Mechanics Group in the Division of Engineering at Brown. He made exceptional contributions to the mechanics of fracture, the plastic deformation of metals, friction, and the mechanics of earthquakes as he rose through the academic ranks at Brown. In 1981 he moved to Harvard to become the Gordon McKay Professor of Engineering Sciences and Geophysics, a position he still holds. Rice, widely regarded as the nation's leading researcher in solid mechanics over the last 30 years, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society (London). He was one of six distinguished engineers to receive an honorary degree during the Division of Engineering's sesquicentennial celebration in September 1997.

"Brown University has long had a pre-eminent position in solid mechanics and has been a productive environment for young people who went on to set the agenda in their field," Rice said when informed of the fund. "Brown's effect on solid mechanics is an accomplishment of worldwide recognition, and this generous endowment will help perpetuate that fine record. The donors have honored me greatly by naming their gift for me."

Hibbitt, Karlsson & Sorensen (HKS)

HKS has always been located in Rhode Island, close to the Brown campus, partly because Hibbitt and Sorensen earned their doctorates at Brown. More than 110 of the employees in the Pawtucket office have advanced degrees in solid mechanics or computer science, including several other key employees who earned their degrees at Brown. Finite element analysis, the methodology used in HKS's ABAQUS software, has its roots in solid mechanics and is now used around the world in applications ranging from the mechanical design of manufacturing processes to the mechanical design of automobiles, airplanes, ships, offshore oil installations, power plants, biomedical devices and other complex engineering systems to ensure their performance, reliability and safety.