“He profoundly influenced my life,” said Allen, a 1969 graduate from Wyoming and now the chairman of J.L. Allen Exploration Ventures, an oil and gas exploration company in the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. “We are glad to honor Dr. Graziano for the positive impact he had on his students.”
Allen and his wife, Patricia, are longtime supporters of Baker and generously donated funds to the project in honor of the physics professor. Their gift secured the rights to name the Dr. William Graziano Advanced Physics Lab in honor of the Faculty Hall of Famer’s 34 years of service — 1965 to 1999 — to Baker.
When he arrived on the Baldwin City campus from Wyoming in the late 1960s, Allen had several aspirations, ranging from ministry and journalism to English. “I had no idea what I was going to do with my life,” Allen said. “Fortunately, I enjoyed math and science and had been taking courses in those subjects all along. Dr. Graziano told me to keep my options open. He told me that it was easier to go from science to English rather than the other way, so I majored in physics. Later, he encouraged graduate school.”
Humbled by the honor of having a lab named in his honor, Graziano remembered Allen being a bright student, serious about his studies.
“Often you get to know students, see them walk across the stage during commencement and wonder if you will ever see them again,” Graziano said. “I was pleased to stay in touch with Jim over the years.”
The Allens will ensure, with their latest gift, the next generation of scientists — and Baker professors — will have the resources to thrive.
“I was impressed by the Baker professors when I attended the University, and I continue to be impressed by the faculty today,” Allen said.
The University is close to reaching its goal of funding the entire $10.3 million Mulvane Transformation. The largest fundraising campaign in Baker’s history, this is the first to be funded entirely through the generosity of alumni and friends of the University.