Clarkson University Names Construction Engineering Management Director's Office After Alumnus with Distinguished Industry Career

July 2, 2024

Clarkson University dedicated its Construction Engineering Management (CEM) Director's Office in memory of Ronald P. Wells '68, whose contributions to the University and the construction industry have been invaluable. This dedication was part of the Ronald P. Wells '68 Memorial Celebration, held June 21, 2024 during Clarkson’s Alumni Reunion weekend. 

Patricia Darnell stands at a podium outside and talks about Ronald Wells '68.
At the ceremony to honor the late Ronald P. Wells ‘68, Patricia Darnell, a colleague at Stacy Witbeck Inc. and fellow board member for the construction industry’s Beavers Foundation, spoke about his leadership and mentorship legacy.  Photo Credit : Jacob McNamara

At the event held with alumni and professional colleagues, University President Marc P. Christensen, Ph.D., P.E.  highlighted Wells' impact on the program and its leadership, "Ron Wells exemplified the spirit of Clarkson. His contributions have not only advanced our CEM program but have also set a standard for excellence that will influence future engineers for years to come."

Ron Wells, who passed away on November 25, 2023, received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Clarkson in 1968 and led an extraordinary construction career.  Following success at Peter Kiewit Sons Inc. for 20 years and then Dillingham Construction Company, he joined Stacy Witek, Inc. in 1996 as its President and CEO, and later became Chairman of the Board.  He grew the firm from a regional construction company to a national  industry leader constructing light rail, commuter rail, streetcar, and other heavy civil transportation construction projects.  

He was a pivotal figure in the establishment and growth of Clarkson’s CEM Program within the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). Through his generosity and leadership, several critical advancements were achieved, including the hiring of the program’s first full-time director, curriculum expansion, an increased emphasis on internships and job placement, and the creation of the CEM Advisory Board. His efforts have solidified Clarkson’s reputation within the construction industry of graduating students who are prepared and sought after because of the training they receive at Clarkson.

"The impact Ron had on our program is immeasurable," said Erik C. Backus ‘97, Prof. of Practice in CEE who serves as the Howard E. Lechler ‘48 Endowed Director of the CEM Program. "His vision and support have propelled us to new heights, and we are honored to carry forward his legacy."

A plaque hands on a wall honoring the late Ronald P. Wells '68.

Wells was a founding member of the CEM Advisory Board in 2012 and played a crucial role in advocating for heavy-civil construction education. His initial gift supported Clarkson’s pioneering efforts to be the first university to offer a dedicated course in building information modeling (BIM) in the northeastern United States. Under his guidance, the CEM program saw a remarkable increase in industry partnerships across diverse sectors and student success in regional and national competitions. Ron Wells urged the teams to go beyond the experience - go to win.  Consequently, Clarkson University has placed in the top three positions over the last eight consecutive years at regional competitions, and twice in nationals.

Spencer F. Thew, Jr. ‘63, Distinguished Service Professor at Clarkson, remarked, "Ron’s dedication to excellence and his unwavering support for our students have left an indelible mark on our program. His leadership has inspired us all to strive for greatness."

Speaking on behalf of the construction industry’s Beavers Foundation and as a colleague of Wells, Patricia Darnell, a retired Stacy and Witbeck, Inc.employee, spoke at the Memorial Celebration and shared, "Ron was more than a leader; he was a mentor and a friend. His passion for the industry and for education was evident in everything he did, and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations."

The Clarkson CEM Consulting Group (C3G), an initiative supported by Wells, provides students with the experience of pre-professional consulting services in planning, engineering, and construction under the guidance and mentoring of Civil & Environmental Engineering faculty. This experiential learning model has enabled students to gain practical experience while delivering valuable services to local communities.

The dedication of the CEM Director's Office serves as a lasting tribute to Ron Wells' extraordinary legacy and his enduring impact on Clarkson University and the construction industry.

For more information about the Clarkson University CEM Program and the Ronald P. Wells Memorial, please visit Clarkson University’s website:

Clarkson University is a proven leader in technological education, research, innovation and sustainable economic development. With its main campus in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, Clarkson faculty have a direct impact on more than 7,800 students annually through nationally recognized undergraduate and graduate STEM designated degrees in engineering, business, science and health professions; executive education, industry-relevant credentials and K-12 STEM programs. Alumni earn salaries among the top 2% in the nation: one in five already leads in the c-suite. To learn more go to
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