Bob Gore

Bob Gore gift

UD announces $10 million commitment from alumnus, business leader

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4 p.m., Sept. 3, 2013--The University of Delaware has received a $10 million commitment from alumnus and Delaware entrepreneur Bob Gore. The gift will benefit the University’s 194,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISE Lab), which opened with the beginning of the fall semester.  In recognition of Gore’s generosity, the research wing of this state-of-the-art facility will be called the “Bob and Jane Gore Research Laboratories.”  

“The entire UD community is grateful to Bob Gore for this landmark gift,” says UD President Patrick Harker. “Bob understands that the ISE Lab will stimulate the same kind of cross-disciplinary, problem-based approach to learning, invention and innovation that’s been so integral to his own legendary success. Through his profoundly generous gift, Bob is investing in the future discoveries of every researcher, faculty member and student who walks through the doors of the Bob and Jane Gore Research Laboratories.”

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Gore was a sophomore studying chemical engineering at UD when he first suggested to his engineer father the idea for an innovative multiconductor wiring strip called the MULTI-TETTM cable. Realizing the potential in his son’s creation and believing in the untapped promise of a polymer called PTFE, Wilbert L. ("Bill") Gore left his job at the DuPont Co. in 1958 and founded W. L. Gore & Associates with his wife, Genevieve ("Vieve"). The MULTI-TETTM cable became the company’s first patent and its first product.

From that first patent, Bob Gore worked alongside his parents to build W. L. Gore into a global business. In 1969, NASA utilized W. L. Gore-manufactured cables on the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Also that year, Bob Gore made a scientific discovery that would transform his business and revolutionize the effectiveness of thousands of products worldwide. He dared to take the PTFE polymer, in which his father so adamantly believed, and stretch it as fast as he possibly could. Instead of breaking, the polymer defied all logic and expanded into a strong, highly porous and extremely versatile material. That one discovery paved the way for the introduction of GORE-TEX® fabrics, GLIDE® Floss and other expanded PTFE products.

Through his support of the ISE Lab, Gore is helping others in the UD community to experience their own moments of discovery.  

“The University of Delaware has long been a leader in instilling important intellectual tools and learning such that students can enter the workforce and make important contributions to society,” says Gore. “With the explosive growth in knowledge over the past few decades and the creation of whole new intellectual disciplines, it is even more important — even critical — that representatives from each of these diverse sectors of knowledge find a way to come together and participate in projects in order to bring about successful outcomes.”  

“The ISE Lab is a major step in providing an environment for individual creativity combined with interactive team work,” adds Gore. “It is a pleasure for me to support such an important initiative.”

ISE Lab

UD has long been a leader in the fields of science and engineering. The goal of ISE Lab is to provide the flexible teaching spaces, advanced research laboratories, cutting-edge equipment and collaborative common areas needed to inspire a new generation of science and engineering professionals to tackle today’s complex global challenges.  

To accomplish this goal, ISE Lab is designed to center diverse groups of faculty, students and researchers on shared projects and interests, encouraging cross-disciplinary cooperation. Students will engage in problem-based learning, taking the knowledge they are learning and applying it to real-word problems.

ISE Lab’s Bob and Jane Gore Research Laboratories will house core research facilities and equipment, including an imaging and microscopy suite, a nanofabrication facility and an advanced materials characterization lab. It also is the new home of three of the University’s key research centers — the University of Delaware Energy Institute, the Delaware Environmental Institute and the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation. 

“Bob Gore’s gift does more than help build a new facility — it unites UD’s legacy and vision," says Babatunde A. Ogunnaike, William L. Friend Chair of Chemical Engineering and dean of the College of Engineering. "With the ISE Lab, our long held strengths in the sciences and in engineering are further enhanced; it provides new space in which to offer the problem-based learning model to every undergraduate, along with the finest laboratories for our faculty and student teams to work together in finding solutions to modern-day problems concerning energy and the environment.”

In support of his alma mater

Gore’s gift to ISE Lab is not the first time he has lent his support to his alma mater.  Gore and his family contributed $18.5 million to finance the construction of Gore Hall in the mid-90s. In 2005, Gore donated $1 million in his mother’s memory to fund the Genevieve W. Gore Recital Hall in the newly built Roselle Center for the Arts. In late 2011, Gore donated $1 million to establish the Robert W. Gore Fellowship in the College of Engineering. Other UD projects and funds that Gore has supported over the years have included: the renovation of Colburn Lab in 1994, the University of Delaware Research Foundation, the Robert W. Gore Professorships in Chemical Engineering and the Arthur B. Metzner Professorship in Chemical Engineering. Gore also sat on the University’s Board of Trustees from 1992-2010, serving as the vice chairman from 1999-2007.

The majority of ISE Lab construction has drawn to a close, and those occupying the building are moving in. With the start of the fall semester, the building is hosting classes and students can be found studying and collaborating throughout its spaces.  An official grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 17.  Naming opportunities in the ISE Lab are still available; for more information, please visit www.udel.edu/iselab or contact Beth Brand at bgbrand@udel.edu

Article by Shannon Pote

Bob Gore photo provided by W. L. Gore & Associates

ISE Lab photo by Evan Krape

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