James K. and Karen J. Van Buren
Through his leadership and generosity as an alumnus, and his service as a member of the Academy of Civil Engineers, James K. Van Buren (CE’63, MSCE’70, Professional Degree CE’99) has contributed to the advancement of Missouri University of Science and Technology in a profound and lasting way, mentoring aspiring civil engineers, providing guidance as an industry advisor, and, along with his wife, Karen, strengthening the university through their gifts in support of Butler-Carlton Hall, the Miner Alumni Association and the Department of Civil Engineering.
James K. Van Buren grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended Cleveland High School, where he developed his early leadership skills as Student Council President. As an undergraduate in Rolla, he was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, Theta Tau and Army ROTC, later serving in Vietnam as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Always a strong believer in the value of education, Jim earned two advanced degrees: a master of science in civil engineering from Missouri S&T and a master’s of engineering administration from George Washington University. He also received a professional degree in civil engineering from Missouri S&T in recognition of his distinguished career.
As an engineer and executive for the St. Louis-based civil engineering firm Sverdrup & Parcel (now Jacobs Engineering), James held many leadership positions, retiring as Vice President in 2000. His industry leadership and community service have also left an enduring legacy. As the past president of the St. Louis Engineers Club, the Missouri Consulting Engineers and the Academy of Civil Engineers, Jim worked tirelessly to advance his profession and peers. As a Presbyterian Church elder, Little League baseball, soccer and basketball coach, and Cub Scout and Boy Scout Master, he has mentored hundreds of future leaders. (Three generations of Van Burens hold the designation Eagle Scout, including Jim, two sons and two grandsons.)
Karen J. Van Buren has also achieved distinction in her professional field, while influencing countless young lives as an elementary school teacher. A graduate of George Mason University, she is a lifelong educator who served as an educational resource consultant after retiring from teaching in 1999. As a community leader, Karen serves as an elder in the Presbyterian Church and served as a Girl Scout leader for many years. She and Jim have three children and eight grandchildren. Their grandson, Andrew, is an undergraduate student at Missouri S&T.
Now, through the vision and generosity of these loyal supporters, the James K. and Karen J. Van Buren Endowed Scholarship for Civil Engineering will provide talented students for generations to come with the opportunity to pursue their promise as civil engineers, Miners and the leaders of tomorrow.