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Alumni to Receive School's Top Honor

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The University of Kansas School of Engineering and its Advisory Board will honor three of the school's alumni for careers that exemplify professional achievement.

On Thursday, May 3, Linda Zarda Cook, The Hague, Netherlands; Rear Adm., retired, Gene Kendall of Fernandina Beach, Fla.; and Kenneth Vaughn, Prairie Village, Kan.; will receive the Distinguished Engineering Service Award at the Kansas Memorial Union. The award was created by the KU School of Engineering Advisory Board in 1980 to honor engineering alumni, or engineers who've maintained a close association with the school, for their outstanding contributions to the theories and practices of engineering research and development in new fields of engineering, or direction of an organization that has made exceptional contributions in design, production and development.

"These three engineers have had an extraordinary impact on the people of the world," said Stuart R. Bell, dean of the KU School of Engineering. "Linda Cook has risen through the ranks to one of the top positions at Royal Dutch Shell and has been a champion for sustainable development. During his highly decorated military career, Gene Kendall provided important technical contributions as well as played an integral role in the training of future naval leaders. Equally as significant are the contributions of Ken Vaughn, the retired principal and president of Larkin and Associates of Kansas City, Mo. A true leader in every sense of the word, Ken has shared his expertise with so many through his volunteer efforts as well as through his design projects. The School of Engineering and its Advisory Board are pleased to recognize these outstanding alumni"

Cook, Kendall and Vaughn will each receive a bronze sculpture acknowledging the achievement. Portraits of the honorees and highlights of their professional accomplishments also will become part of the permanent DESA display in Eaton Hall, home of the School of Engineering.

"These alumni are outstanding role models of personal and professional integrity for our students to emulate," Bell said.


[Linda Cook]

Linda Zarda Cook

Executive director, Royal Dutch Shell plc

B.S., petroleum engineering, 1980

Linda Zarda Cook rose through the ranks in an industry dominated by men to become one of the top executives in one of the top energy companies in the world.

As an executive director and member of the board of Royal Dutch Shell plc, she is responsible for Shell's global Gas & Power business. She also is responsible for the Renewable Energy and Hydrogen businesses as well as Shell Global Solutions. Cook also serves as regional managing director for Shell's activities in the Asia Pacific region.

Cook, who grew up in Shawnee, Kan., joined Shell's Exploration & Production business in Houston as a petroleum engineer after graduating from KU in 1980.

After a variety of technical and managerial appointments, she became a member of Royal Dutch Shell's global E&P; leadership team based in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1998, with responsibility for strategy and business development. In 2001, Cook was named CEO of Shell's London-based Gas & Power business.

In 2003, Cook was appointed director, president and CEO of Shell Canada Ltd. and moved to Calgary, Canada. In mid 2004, Cook was named executive director for Royal Dutch Petroleum and returned to the Netherlands in her current capacity.

Cook is routinely recognized as one of the most powerful women executives in the world. She has developed a reputation as a leader who generates respect and wins strong performance, while also presenting Shell's softer side: a commitment to sustainable development and responsible interaction with a variety of stakeholders.

Cook is a member of the China Development Forum, the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the board of directors for the Boeing Company.

She and her husband, Steven, reside in the Netherlands. They have three children.

[Gene Kendall]

Gene R. Kendall

Rear Admiral, retired, U.S. Navy

Director of Training GSO Corporation

B.S., engineering physics, 1971

Master of engineering, special studies, 1972

Rear Admiral Gene R. Kendall, retired, exemplified innovation, professionalism and leadership throughout his lengthy naval career.

Kendall completed Nuclear Power Training in 1968 and was commissioned from the Naval Enlisted Scientific Education Program at the University of Kansas. He earned a bachelor's degree in engineering physics in 1971 and the master of engineering degree in 1972. While at KU, Kendall was integral in establishing the Student Council for Recruiting, Motivating and Educating Black Engineers: the inception of minority and diversity programs at the School of Engineering.

As a young officer, Kendall served on several ships, earning promotions along the way.

Kendall's tours included Surface Warfare Officer School as the founding director of the Engineering Officer of the Watch course and director of Engineering Specialty Training. He also served as special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations and Fellow with the Chief of Naval Operations' Strategic Studies Group XV at the Naval War College. As director of the U.S. Naval Academy's Division of Mathematics and Science in 1992 he was the first African American and first non-Naval Academy graduate to lead a major academic division.

Kendall commanded three ships: U.S.S. Sphinx, U.S.S. Fletcher and U.S.S. Mount Whitney. In 1996, he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral and became the 12th African American in U.S. Navy history to achieve that rank.

Throughout his career Kendall was recognized for the leadership and professionalism he brought to his position, as well as for the technological contributions he made in the field of large-bore gunnery, anti-submarine underwater acoustic operations and surface ship engineering propulsion plant operations. His personal awards include two Legion of Merits, three Meritorious Service Medals, and many more. He has been involved in the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, the National Society of Black Engineers, American Society of Naval Engineers and the Surface Navy Association. He serves on the School of Engineering Advisory Board.

Kendall currently is director of training for GSO Corporation.

He and his wife Sandra, reside in Fernandina Beach, Fla. They have two sons.

[Kenneth J. Vaughn]

Kenneth J. Vaughn

Retired principal and president, Larkin and Associates

B.S., civil engineering, 1957

M.S., civil engineering, 1963

Kenneth J. Vaughn's career has been a noteworthy combination of public service and private practice.

After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in civil engineering in 1957, he was hired as a structural design engineer with Wilson and Company in Salina, Kan., where he performed structural analysis and design of bridges, water containment structures, and buildings.

In 1960, Vaughn took a leave of absence to pursue a master's degree in civil engineering at KU. During this time, he also worked as a special projects engineer for the Kansas State Water Resources Board evaluating sites for the future Clinton Lake dam. After completing his degree he returned to Wilson and Company.

In 1963, Vaughn joined Larkin and Associates, now known as the Larkin Group, and was hired as engineering consultant to the city of Prairie Village. At Larkin he was elevated to partner status by 1965. He performed design, management and leadership responsibilities, and is recognized by employees, colleagues and competitors as a talented mentor with a high level of professionalism who always treated others with respect. In 1980, his work on the Brush Creek stabilization project, which is thought by many in the Kansas City area to be of vital importance to the safety of thousands, won a first place award for public improvements from Kansas Consulting Engineers.

In 1984, Vaughn was elected the first president of the firm when it was incorporated. Vaughn retired as principal and president of Larkin Associates in 1994.

He is a professional engineer in five states and has been actively involved in numerous professional organizations, including, ASCE, APWA, the Kansas State Board of Technical Professions and more. He has been a loyal supporter of KU and in 1976 was selected as one of the first members of the Department of Civil Engineering Advisory Board, on which he continues to serve.

Within his community he has been involved in numerous activities, having volunteered his time and talent to the growth and planning of his city, several youth organizations and his church.

Vaughn and his wife, Marilyn, reside in Prairie Village, Kan. They have three children and three grandchildren.

Learn about past DESA recipients

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