Engineering alumnus endows graduate fellowship in memory of late wife


By Tim Schley

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Penn State has received a gift of $200,000 from Mark Alpert, a 1980 Penn State alumnus in environmental engineering, to establish the Mark E. and Claire L. Alpert Graduate Fellowship.

This gift is made in the memory of Mark Alpert’s late wife, Claire Alpert, who passed away in 2014, and will be combined with a matching contribution from The Graduate School at Penn State, as part of the concluded Graduate Fellowship Matching Program, to support graduate students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering that exhibit outstanding academic excellence.

“On behalf of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Penn State, I sincerely thank Mark for his generosity,” said Patrick Fox, John A. and Harriette K. Shaw Professor of Civil Engineering and head of the department. “This fellowship will be a significant resource for the department as we continue to attract and support outstanding graduate students.”

Mark Alpert, a recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award, attended Penn State as a graduate student from 1973 to 1974, although illness forced him to leave school three months prior to graduation. Six years later, his graduate school advisers convinced him — by then, married and a father — to return and complete his degree.

“Claire and I always felt grateful to the University because of that,” Mark Alpert said. “We were both dedicated to education and professionalism, and Penn State was one of the foundational experiences of my career. I wanted to do something for them in return.”

While Claire Alpert did not attend Penn State, she earned four degrees from several universities — three of which came after the couple had married. According to Mark Alpert, her educational path largely followed the needs of their family, specifically their four sons.

“She received an early education degree just to better engage with our kids in elementary school,” Mark Alpert said. “Then we knew we had to support them through college, so she got an accounting degree. She had a significant learning aptitude and was an amazing mother. I told my sons, ‘I’m going to do something in Mom’s memory,’ and establishing this fellowship was a way to remember her and give back. This is a proud moment for our family.”

Early in his career, Mark Alpert worked for the State of Maryland as a field project engineer, developing water quality and effluent standards and enforcing the Clean Water Act and the Safe Water Drinking Act. In 1978, he pivoted to the private sector and joined Metcalf & Eddy — now part of AECOM — and managed public and private water and wastewater projects, eventually becoming regional vice president.

In 1986, Mark Alpert joined CH2M Hill — acquired by Jacobs Engineering Group in 2017 — and was promoted to senior vice president of the firm’s water business group, responsible for the creation of the construction and design-build business for water and wastewater projects.

During his time with CH2M Hill, he established many best practices for project delivery in the industry. In acknowledgement of this leadership, he received the Brunelleschi Lifetime Achievement Award by the Design-Build Institute of America in 2009.

Mark Alpert retired from CH2M Hill in 2014 and currently serves as the executive director of the Water Design-Build Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes best practices in project delivery for municipal water and wastewater systems. In addition, he is the founder and president of Integrated Delivery Solutions, a company that advises both public and private sector clients with regard to water infrastructure projects.

This gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit


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Megan Lakatos

a man stands next to an award placque hanging on a wall

Mark Alpert received the Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award in 2017. IMAGE: PROVIDED