Mehmet Egemen Ozbek, professor in the Colorado State University Department of Construction Management, was named the Joseph Phelps Endowed Chair for a three-year appointment. His selection was made by a committee of both academic and industry leaders. The Joseph Phelps Endowed Chair was established in 2002 to build on the already high quality of construction education at CSU.
Joe Phelps, who was CEO and chairman of Hensel Phelps Construction before he created Joseph Phelps Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley, founded the endowed chair at CSU’s Department of Construction Management, among many other contributions he made to the department. The purpose of the endowment is to support a distinguished faculty member to enhance education, research, and service programs. Endowed chairs help the University attract and retain top-quality faculty.
Ozbek holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering with a focus on construction engineering and management. He has received grant funding from federal, state, and private entities, surrounding his varied research interests. Ozbek has also published extensively to disseminate his research in peer-reviewed publications. He has taught courses for the undergraduate and graduate programs, including a service-learning course and a study-abroad course. In addition to serving on the editorial boards of four journals, Ozbek currently serves on five national committees related to construction and infrastructure. At the international level, he served as the overseas external adviser for the Construction Program at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
In addition to being a professor in the Department of Construction Management, Ozbek also has a courtesy appointment in CSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is an affiliated faculty member for the Center for Sustainable and Intelligent Transportation Systems, as well as the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at CSU.
In 2020, he received the regional outstanding educator award from the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC). Ozbek is the faculty adviser for the Construction Management Association of America Student Chapter at CSU; he has served as the faculty coach for the ASC Competition Commercial Team and the Integrated Project Team. He also held an administrative position as the acting and interim head of the department from 2018-2020.
Goals of the position
When asked how he planned to use the chair to benefit CM’s teaching, research, and service, Ozbek responded, “I realize that the benefits and privileges of such an endowed position come with an additional responsibility in terms of productivity and service,” he said. “My overarching goal is to improve my productivity by conducting meaningful and impactful teaching and mentoring, research, and service activities that would also serve our department and students well.”
Ozbek went on to highlight a few of his specific goals that include developing a multi-site international construction project management course, expanding CM’s existing study-abroad courses, helping with doctoral student recruitment and retention, working on forming and leading research teams in collaboration with other disciplines, such as social and behavioral sciences, while mentoring faculty in the department to strategically position themselves to be able to pursue interdisciplinary research activities. One potential area of research, Ozbek mentioned, is to investigate the health, equity, and sustainability considerations of construction both for the construction workforce and the public. He would also like to establish new partnerships with international institutions.
Phelps, long-time friend of CM
Joe Phelps was a long-time friend and supporter of Colorado State University and the construction management program. He graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree in construction management. Soon after graduating from what was then known as Colorado A&M, Phelps joined his father’s small construction firm, which was incorporated as Hensel Phelps Construction Company in 1957, where Phelps served in the role of president and general manager.
Phelps’ legacy lives on through his philanthropic donations to CSU and the Department of Construction Management. The support has come through scholarships, support for university priority campaigns, faculty development grants, and establishing the Phelps Internship Placement Program for construction management students.
“I wholeheartedly believe that the Joseph Phelps Endowed Chair will significantly help me with my long-term career goals,” said Ozbek. “I am well aware that this position signifies the contributions of the construction industry to our program, and thus I would be seeking the industry’s perspective to inform my long-term goals with respect to teaching and mentoring, research, and service, as well as engaging industry in pursuing those goals. I realize that carrying the Phelps name in my title is a great opportunity, and an honor that I will not take lightly.”