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Klipsch family donates $500,000 to New Mexico State University College of Engineering

A $500,000 donation to New Mexico State University will be used to establish two endowed chairs in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and to support a museum dedicated to the history of technology, said Steven P. Castillo, head of the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.



Howard Smolleck, a professor of electrical engineering and curator of the New Mexico State University College of Engineering's engineering and technology museum, shows some of the more than 500 items on display in the museum. A donation by Paul W. and Valerie Klipsch will help improve the museum's exhibits. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Paul W. Klipsch, a well known inventor of audio loudspeakers, and his wife Valerie made the donation at New Mexico State's Homecoming in October, but the amount of the donation was only announced in late December, Castillo said.

He said $450,000 of the donation will be used to establish two endowed professorships, to be known as the Paul W. and Valerie Klipsch Distinguished Professorships in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Proceeds from the endowments will be used to enhance the salaries of the holders of the professorships. The enhancements will make the Klipsch School better able to attract faculty at the national level and also will help fund activities such as the professors' travel and publication of papers, Castillo said.

The museum of technology was established approximately three years ago with a donation of Paul Klipsch's notes and technical papers, as well as prototype loudspeakers he created while starting his company, said Howard Smolleck, a professor in the Klipsch School who is also the museum's curator.

Housed in Engineering Complex III on the New Mexico State campus, it has grown to contain more than 500 items, such as electrical machinery, computers and technical manuals, dating from around 1900 to the late 1970s, as well as Klipsch's papers and prototypes, Smolleck said.

The remaining $50,000 of the Klipschs' recent donation will allow the purchase of display furniture and the funding of other museum activities. Smolleck said the museum plans to schedule regular hours eventually; interested parties now may view the exhibits by appointment.

Paul W. Klipsch received a bachelor of science degree from New Mexico State in 1926 and obtained a master of science degree from Stanford University in 1934. He also was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from New Mexico State in 1981.

In the early 1950s, he started Klipsch and Associates in Hope, Ark., to make loudspeakers based on a patent he received. He sold the company in 1989, retired in 1993 and has not been involved in the company since 1998. Among the awards he has received for his work in audio equipment are induction into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame in 1997, induction into the Audio Hall of Fame in 1983 and being awarded the Audio Engineering Society Silver Medal in 1978.

A biography of Klipsch, titled "Paul Wilbur Klipsch: The Life ... The Legend," by Maureen A. Barrett and Michael J. Klementovich, will be released in March 2002.

Photo is available at http://kiernan.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/smolleck_museum.jpg.
CUTLINE: Howard Smolleck, a professor of electrical engineering and curator of the New Mexico State University College of Engineering's engineering and technology museum, shows some of the more than 500 items on display in the museum. A donation by Paul W. and Valerie Klipsch will help improve the museum's exhibits. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Jack King
Jan. 15, 2001