|October 05, 2007|
When Dr. Daniel A. Okun, Kenan Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of environmental engineering, retired from the UNC School of Public Health in 1982, the department he chaired for almost two decades was several times bigger than the one he joined in the 1950s. Under Okun’s leadership, the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering’s narrow focus on a program in sanitary engineering had expanded to a comprehensive, interdisciplinary environmental sciences and engineering program–now ranked among the country’s top 10, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Even in retirement, Okun continues to add value to UNC. “Dan has a history of giving to the university,” says Dr. Michael D. Aitken, chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. “He’s been a consistent donor to our department for many years.”
Okun’s contributions have funded a range of development efforts, from student scholarships to the construction of buildings and facilities. This year, Okun gave a gift to the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering to name the department chair’s suite in Rosenau Hall.
“The opportunity to directly associate the suite with Okun is a significant honor for the department,” Aitken says.
Okun has been recognized by virtually every professional organization in his field for excellence as an engineer, scholar, teacher and public servant. His 50-year career advocating the protection of drinking water resources, use of appropriate water technology infrastructures in developing countries, and responsible water supply planning has brought untold prestige to the School.
“We are grateful to Dan first for his leadership, and second for his generosity,” says Aitken. “He helped put the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering on the map.”
— by Margarita De Pano
Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health. To subscribe to Carolina Public Health or to view the entire Fall 2007 issue in PDF, visit www.sph.unc.edu/cph.