$1M endowed professorship to honor George Kirkland: Gator Engineering distinguished alumnus and retired Chevron Corporation executive

Published: August 10 2015


A $1 million gift to the University of Florida College of Engineering will establish a professorship honoring the retirement of a top Chevron executive and UF engineering alumnus. The George Kirkland Professorship in Engineering Leadership will be the first endowed faculty position with a component dedicated to leadership education at the college. 

The endowment , which is 25 percent funded by Chevron, and the remainder by the George L. and Joy E. Kirkland Fund, will enable the college to support a nationally recognized faculty member whose work exemplifies the standards set forth by the UF Engineering Leadership Institute. Along with developing the skills of being collaborative and innovative, preparation for leadership is a core component of powering the new engineer– the college’s vision for educating tomorrow’s engineers. 

“Educating our students with leadership skills and concepts is critically important to the future of engineering as a profession,” said Cammy Abernathy, dean of the UF College of Engineering. “We are tremendously grateful to Chevron Corporation and to George Kirkland – his leadership example has been distinguished throughout his stellar career.”

Kirkland served as vice chairman of the board of directors for Chevron Corporation and executive vice president of its largest business segment, Upstream, until his retirement in June. Kirkland graduated from UF with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1972 and a master’s degree in engineering in 1974. He devoted 40 years to Chevron Corporation, starting immediately after graduation as a design and construction engineer. Under his leadership Chevron’s Upstream business segment became a leader in safety and financial performance. Kirkland was honored by UF as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2014.

“Chevron believes that building the critical skills found within the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math is a key element of societal advancement in countries around the world,” said Steve Green, vice president of policy, government and public affairs, Chevron Corporation. “The establishment of the George Kirkland Professorship in Engineering Leadership allows Chevron to partner with a distinguished center of engineering excellence to advance that goal and it is a fitting extension of George’s legacy of service.”

“The knowledge and leadership skills I developed at the University of Florida prepared me to deliver results in diverse settings around the world and to successfully guide a large organization with global reach,” said Kirkland. “It is gratifying to support future Gator engineers as they gain the leadership insights and technical capabilities they will use to continue transforming the world.”

The Engineering Leadership Institute was established in 2010 and is currently led by its inaugural director, Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General. The Institute provides educational framework, immersive experience and an interactive learning environment for the students, faculty and alumni of the college. 



University of Florida

Cammy Abernathy, thedean@eng.ufl.edu, 352-392-6000

Chevron Corporation

Melissa Ritchie, 925-790-3372