Supporting renewable energy: A story of giving

For Ron Christenson, education is a tool with the most ultimate of powers. In fact, it is a tool that the Earth's future depends on, which is why he decided to give back to the cause after a long and successful professional career.

Christenson, a 1972 mechanical engineering grad, and his wife, Janet, started the Ronald L. and Janet A. Christenson Chair in Renewable Energy, which will support faculty in the research and education of renewable energy.

"Developing technologies that address the future of energy can make a huge difference in this world."

Christenson said his time at the College of Science and Engineering introduced him to inspirational professors and exposed him to experiences that shaped his impressive 38-year career with Cargill. The company hired Christenson when he was still an undergraduate and when it only had 6,000 employees. By the time he retired, Christenson had risen to Chief Technology Officer and the company employed about 160,000 people.

Through his generous donation, Christenson hopes to make a difference for people by helping create advancements in a vital area of research—renewable energy.

“Developing technologies that address the future of energy can make a huge difference in this world,” Christenson said.

“There is a lot of luck and fate in life, but if you do not have the tools when the opportunity presents itself, you are not going to be able to do anything,” Christenson said. “I felt I got those tools at the University of Minnesota.”