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Classroom to be named for William J. Hall

Melvin “Mickey” Kupperman (BS 57, MS 58) and his wife, Janice, have made a leadership gift to the CEE Modernization Fund to name a classroom after Professor Emeritus William J. Hall.

Professor Emeritus William J. Hall posing before the Alaska Pipeline, one of the projects on which he worked.
Professor Emeritus William J. Hall posing before the Alaska Pipeline, one of the projects on which he worked.

“I came from a family of modest means,” Kupperman wrote. “I believe I came to the U of I with an equally modest intellect. Bill was both a professor of mine in the undergraduate Civil Engineering program and my graduate school adviser. He made an average student believe he could reach some above average goals. He was somebody who cared about his students inside the classroom and beyond. While I am grateful for the education I received at the University of Illinois that experience is distilled for me into one person, Bill Hall. Our gift is not only recognition of what Bill did for me, but also for the decades of students who also benefitted from his influence. A whole other case could be made for honoring Bill’s professional achievements. That is not our objective. Our gift is all about Bill the person.”

Kupperman is Chief Operations Officer for the real estate development, investment and management firm Silverstein Properties Inc. in New York City. He began his career at A. Epstein and Sons, the company founded in 1921 by Abraham S. Epstein (BS 11), also a CEE at Illinois alumnus. Throughout his 45-year career there, Kupperman had a particular focus on organizational strategy and development as well as the management and organization of mega-projects, such as the expansions of McCormick Place in Chicago and the United Airlines Terminal at O’Hare International Airport and the redevelopment of Midway Airport.

After A. Epstein was sold to the employees through an employee stock ownership plan in 2000, Kupperman retired as Chief Operating Officer. In 2005, he began working at Silverstein Properties Inc., where his projects have included the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has honored Kupperman with the College of Engineering Alumni Award for Distinguished Service and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award.

During 40 years on the department faculty, Professor Emeritus William J. Hall (MS 51, PhD 54) educated and advised generations of students who became civil and environmental engineering leaders around the world. He was a named a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1968 — one of the youngest people ever elected. He led the department as Head from 1984-1991.

“I’m honored to have this classroom dedicated to me,” Hall said. “My hope is that others who use it are as fortunate as I was in enjoying a long career at Illinois with top-notch colleagues and talented students. I’m very grateful to Mickey for his generosity and to all the donors who are contributing to this space.”

The Kuppermans also made a gift to establish the Sidney Epstein Alumni Welcome Center in the new Hydrosystems Lab addition.

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