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Don Paul has always had a knack for building connections and integrating ideas. This way of thinking was first instilled at MIT where Paul received a B.S. in Applied Mathematics in 1967, an S.M. in Geology and Geophysics in 1969, and a Ph.D. in Geophysics in 1977. As a graduate student, Paul studied in what is now the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). EAPS approaches the study of the Earth as an integrated system, and Paul’s graduate advisor, Professor Emeritus Ted Madden, encouraged him to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries and to aggregate ideas and concepts. Paul found that he thrived in this flexible, interdisciplinary environment and that his studies prepared him well for a successful career in energy and technology management.
Paul enjoyed a 33-year tenure at Chevron, where he excelled at forging R&D partnerships between Chevron and major universities, governments, and businesses. In 2008, he retired as Chevron’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, only to launch a second career in academia. Paul now serves as Executive Director of the University of Southern California (USC) Energy Institute. He also holds the William M. Keck Chair in Energy Resources.
Throughout the years, Paul has maintained his connections to EAPS and is a member of the department’s visiting committee as well as the School of Science Dean’s Advisory Council. With his long tenure in the energy industry, he has played a key role in the Earth Resources Laboratory, MIT’s center for subsurface science. “Don has been an invaluable advisor for EAPS and the School of Science,” says Dean Marc Kastner. “His experience in industry, government, and academia give him a unique perspective. We have greatly benefitted not only from his financial support, but also from his strong leadership and guidance.”
A few years ago, Paul set up a charitable remainder unitrust that will be invested in MIT’s endowment to support EAPS. Paul is thrilled with his charitable trust, which allows him to give back to MIT while receiving lifetime income and attractive tax benefits. “It’s a win-win situation,” says Paul.
Paul chose to structure his gift so that the Department Head has maximum flexibility to use the funds where they are needed most. As an administrator and faculty member at USC, Paul now sees just how important discretionary funds are to a university.
“Discretionary funds are extremely difficult to raise, yet incredibly valuable,” says Paul. “Because they help nurture innovation and build new programs, they are critical to the continued vitality of any educational enterprise, especially one like MIT.”