This year, the Department of Construction Management honored a very deserving individual to receive the CM Friend of the Department Award. This award is given in recognition of individuals, organizations, or businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in building industry-construction education partnerships which strengthen Colorado State University’s Construction Management program.
CM is committed to providing high quality education for tomorrow’s industry leaders. Since its inception in 1946, more than 5,500 students have graduated from the program. Many have gone on to become leaders in their fields, some as owners and executives of major construction companies.
This year’s recipient is no exception. Rick Tucker is the executive vice president of Hensel Phelps, headquartered in Greeley, Colorado. Tucker (’90) is a graduate of Colorado State University with a B.S. in construction management.
Growing up in Fort Collins, Tucker began his college career enrolled in an engineering school. After three semesters, he announced to his parents that he would not continue with engineering, that he did not know what direction he would take, but he was certain he did not want to perform calculations in a cubicle for the rest of his life.
“I have to give credit to my mom in getting me to the CSU CM program,” said Tucker. “Without my knowledge, she stopped at the CM program and sent me the information she was provided. It arrived with a note that said something like, ‘Take a look – you have always enjoyed building things.’ I had not been aware that a person could have a successful career in the construction industry. The rest is history!”
Career in construction management
After graduating from CSU, Tucker began his career with Hensel Phelps, where he rose through the ranks from field engineer, office engineer, project engineer, project manager, operations manager, vice president and plains district manager, and now executive vice president.
“The well-balanced CM curriculum provided an education that gave me the skills necessary to become a successful businessperson,” Tucker said. “The construction classes, combined with engineering and business classes, allow any graduate to be successful in almost any sector of the industry.”
CSU alumnus giving back
Giving back is an important aspect of Tucker’s life. He serves on the Board of Directors for both the Denver Civic Ventures Inc., and Colorado Youth Outdoors, served as Chairman of AGC Colorado, and remains highly engaged in promoting the quality of the CM program. Tucker is the current chair of the CM Professional Advisory Development Board (PADB) for the Construction Management department at Colorado State University. His service to the PADB included a term as chair from November 2014 – October 2017, co-chair from November 2011 – October 2014, and has been a member of the PADB Executive Council since its inception in 2012. Tucker has been a champion, advocate, and valued partner of the CM department. He represented the PADB during the department’s last accreditation review in which the visiting team listed the PADB as a strength of the program. He regularly encourages and promotes involvement of the construction industry in supporting construction education at CSU. Tucker also proudly notes that, while there are several nationally ranked CM programs across the nation and over 100 schools at which Hensel Phelps recruits, CSU “consistently ranks as one of the top providers of graduates employed by the company.”
As an alumnus, Tucker continues his affiliation with the program, assisting with everything from recruiting efforts to speaking in CM classes to his current position as the chair of CM’s PADB. He particularly enjoys working with PADB because of the CM program’s determination to adjust curriculum to meet the changing needs of industry.
CM department head, Paul Goodrum, said, “A real strength of the Department of Construction Management is the multiple ways alumni support our program. Over multiple decades, the department has significantly benefited from Rick’s leadership and advocacy for construction education. There is no doubt in my mind that Rick’s contributions have strengthened the Department of Construction Management. We could not be happier to recognize Rick with the Friend of the Department Award!”
“It’s easy for me to decide to give back to a program which provided the solid foundation for my career,” said Tucker. “This tailored education allows students to be better prepared to enter the industry which, in turn, increases the desire for industry to hire CSU graduates. Students, CSU, and the construction industry – they all win because of this. This [award] is totally unexpected, and I’m so honored.”