Durham - School History



History of The Charles W. Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction


The Durham's

The namesake for The Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, Charles W. Durham was an engineer, businessman, leader, and generous supporter within Omaha and beyond. The third-generation civil engineer grew up in Ames, Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University. He joined Omaha's Henningson Engineering and was active in its growth, becoming president in 1950 after working for the firm for just 10 years. The firm was subsequently renamed Henningson, Durham & Richardson, Inc.

Under Durham's leadership, the company later known as HDR Inc., grew to be an international firm with 1,700 employees with projects and offices around the world. The highly regarded architecture, engineering and consulting (A/E/C) firm has specialized in public works projects, including military facilities and hospitals.

After selling the company in 1983, Durham and his wife, Margre, focused on charitable giving that continues to benefit the region. They provided generous funding to the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the Durham Western Heritage Museum, and The Durham School.

Charles W. Durham died in 2008 in Omaha at age 90, but his legacy endures through his support of education.

In 2005, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and the University of Nebraska Foundation in collaboration with industry and philanthropic supporters provided a significant endowment for The Charles W. Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction. The school was also provided a Durham Board of Institutional Oversight as permanent stewards for the program and use of endowment funds. This board meets quarterly to discuss school news and establish strategic plans.