Presented by the University Archives of the University Libraries, with the Department of Biochemistry of Virginia Tech
Fifty-Year Celebration of the Department of Biochemistry

Ruben W. (Charlie) Engel
"The New Building"
Interview by G.E. (Ed) Bunce

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Bunce: One of the things that had to happen was to get a new building, and you were instrumental in seeing that came about.

Engel: Well that was an interesting experience also. As part of the background, I have to make two observations. One, I had been invited by the director of the experiment station at Michigan State University to head what was going to be a new Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition at that university. It was an appealing offer and would have raised my salary a fair amount, but after interviews there with myself and with my wife, I came back to Virginia, and I told my director that my job here wasn't finished. I hadn't completed the job of building the faculty, and I was pressed for a place to work. So in 1957, I got the go ahead to start planning for a separate building to house biochemistry and nutrition.

At that time I don't believe a single U.S. Public Health Service grant had ever been made to the university, but I decided to make an application to the National Institute of Health for what was then called a construction grant, in other words the National Institute of Health was interested in finding universities that were doing health related research and support them with building funds. We were successful in getting a little over a half million-dollar grant from the National Institute of Health, and with this in hand the director went before the Virginia General Assembly to match, because the federal money from the public health service would not be available unless it was matched by state contributions. I think it was in the 1958 General Assembly that money was authorized to match the public health service grant so that we could start building the building. And that's the background of how we got a new building, which we dedicated in 1961 with a symposium...

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Last Updated on: Friday, 04-Apr-2003 15:02:47 EST by Mark B. Gerus