• Home
  • Three to Receive Top Honor from KU School of Engineering

Three to Receive Top Honor from KU School of Engineering

Thursday, May 11, 2006

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 11, J.B. "Bert" Ladd, Los Angeles; Rear Adm. Michael K. Loose, Washington D.C.; and Paul H. Mitchell, Bonita Springs, Fla., 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.

"The School of Engineering and its Advisory Board are pleased to recognize these three individuals who've had extraordinary impact on people, programs and places both near and far," said Stuart R. Bell, dean of the KU School of Engineering. "J.B. Ladd, a 1949 petroleum engineering graduate, has led a remarkable career as an independent oil and gas producer. Rear Admiral Loose, a 1975 civil engineering alumnus, now commands the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and oversees a budget of more than $10 billion in U.S. Naval installation projects and services." No less significant is the career of Paul H. Mitchell, a 1962 mechanical engineering alumnus who recently retired as vice president of advanced research and development for Nike. "Paul's vision and innovative skills were essential in the development of the highly successful Nike Air line of athletic shoes."

"These three engineers are extraordinary role models of personal and professional integrity for our students to emulate," Bell said. Ladd, Loose and Mitchell 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.

Biographical Information

J.B. “Bert” Ladd

Retired founder and CEO of Ladd Petroleum Corporation

B.S. Petroleum Engineering, The University of Kansas, 1949


Ladd enrolled at the University of Kansas in 1942, however placed his college aspirations on hold during World War II. After being honorably discharged as a 1st lieutenant from the U.S. Army Air Corps he returned to KU to finish his degree. Upon graduation, Ladd found employment with a firm that would later become better known as Texaco. He worked several positions in the firm’s mountain west division. In 1957, Ladd joined Consolidate Oil and Gas as its vice president of operations, but left to spend a year working in Citibank's new loan group that served the international and domestic petroleum industry. Upon his return to Consolidated Oil, Ladd was able to help the firm grow to dominance among modest sized independent oil and gas entities. In 1968, he formed Ladd Petroleum Corporation, which by 1973 had achieved significant industry stature and about 5,000 shareholders. Ladd Petroleum merged with Utah International, which subsequently was acquired by industry giant General Electric in 1976. Ladd continued to work as president and chairman of Ladd Petroleum until he resigned in 1979. He has remained active in the petroleum industry and corporate world and serves as a director of Whiting Petroleum Corporation, which he helped found 25 years ago.

Rear Adm. Michael K. Loose

Commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Chief of Civil Engineers, U.S. Navy

B.S. Civil Engineering, The University of Kansas, 1975

 [Rear Admiral Michael K. Loose]

Loose, a native of Albuquerque, attended the University of Kansas on a Navy ROTC scholarship and was commissioned as an ensign upon graduation.

He has spent more than 30 years in significant positions in the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps. In 2003, Loose assumed command of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and became chief of civil engineers. As such, Loose leads NAVFAC's 15,000 personnel in providing a diverse array of engineering, planning, public works, construction management, environmental, real estate and contracting services for the Navy installations around the world. The effort represents more than $10 billion annually. He also is responsible for logistics and engineering support to the Naval Construction Force — also known as the Navy Seabees — 22 battalions and four regiments actively engaged in the war on terrorism. As chief of civil engineers, Loose leads more than 2,000 Civil Engineer Corps officers and is responsible for all aspects of the community's training and development and employment in support of the Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Department of Defense objectives.

Paul H. Mitchell

Retired Vice President of Advanced Research and Development, Nike Inc.

B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1962

 [Paul H. Mitchell]

After completing the ROTC program and graduating from the University of Kansas Mitchell worked at Eastman Kodak for a few months before serving two years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He received the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for Outstanding Military Service and achieved the rank of 1st Lieutenant. Mitchell then held leadership positions at major corporations in the Fort Smith, Ark., region. In 1970, he was offered a position as engineering manager at Tetra Plastics near St. Louis. By 1972 he had been promoted to vice president. In 1980, Tetra began working with the sporting equipment giant Nike to develop uniquely engineered cushioning systems for the Nike Air line of shoes. In 1988, Mitchell was promoted to president and COO of Tetra and assumed general management responsibilities. In 1991, Mitchell negotiated the sale of Tetra Plastics to Nike and was named the president and CEO of the new Nike IHM subsidiary. In 1993, the plant was flooded with 7-feet of water when the Missouri River breached its levees. The plant employed about 250 people and was Nike's only Air technology materials and components manufacturing plant. Mitchell quickly moved the operation to a nearby dry location. Twenty-seven days after the flooding, damaged equipment had been rebuilt, workers were back on the line and Nike IHM averted an international shortage of soles. In January 2000, Mitchell was named vice president for advanced research and development for Nike Global Footwear.

Mitchell holds 11 patents. He has been very active in the Society of Plastic Industry Sheet Products — serving as its president for two years— as well as serving on the National Board of Directors of the Society of Plastic Industry.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times