Engineering alumnus makes $3 million gift commitment to aerospace engineering

Published: Aug 28, 2023 10:00 AM

By Bethany Deuel

John, ’65 aerospace engineering, and Elouise (Click) Junkins recently committed $3 million in an estate gift to the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

John, who previously served as the interim president of Texas A&M University, is the founding director of the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study and a distinguished professor of aerospace engineering at the land-grant institution. 

The sizeable gift made by the Junkinses will establish an endowed chair and add to an endowed scholarship for aerospace engineering in the couple’s name.

“I am incredibly thankful that John and Elouise are recognizing Auburn University and the Department of Aerospace Engineering with this legacy gift,” said Brian Thurow, the W. Allen and Martha Reed professor and chair of aerospace engineering. “The department has a long history of preparing students for successful long-term careers, with John’s career serving as a prime example. This gift will help ensure that this legacy continues by providing Auburn with the resources needed to attract and reward outstanding students and faculty.”

Engineering Dean Mario Eden also expressed his gratitude for the gift.

“We are tremendously grateful for the generous philanthropic gift from Dr. and Mrs. Junkins,” he said. “It is truly inspiring to see our alumni continue to give back to this great college. Their commitment to advancing engineering will resonate through generations of students, faculty and staff, leaving a positive mark on future Auburn engineers.”

During his time at Auburn, John worked as a co-op student at NASA in Huntsville where he worked with the renowned Wernher von Braun. He would later support the final three Apollo missions during the early 70s. John earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles before beginning his career in teaching.

Elouise, who met John during his time in Huntsville, is proud of the many lives John impacted through his teaching appointments at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and now Texas A&M.

“He just loves developing graduate students and will soon graduate his 60th Ph.D. student,” she said. “His ‘offspring’ are truly awesome, and they are everywhere in industry, government and 29 even became professors. As a consequence, he has four generations of professor offspring. I am just a little proud of John's impact on education and research of so many descendant engineers.”

John and Elouise believe giving this gift reflects what Auburn Engineering gave them by way of John’s career successes.

"My decision to come to Auburn in the fall of 1962 was an important turning point that has affected many lives,” John said. “The combination of a great Auburn Engineering education and inspirational employment at NASA during the Apollo years laid the foundation for my career. I have been surfing a wave of enthusiasm ever since. Together, Elouise and I continue to enjoy the consequences of me choosing Auburn.

“Our decision to give back to Auburn came last year as we reflected on how important education has been to us and how universities can change lives. Auburn certainly changed our lives and we are just delighted that we can help repay Auburn's investment in our family by helping to underwrite future generations."

Media Contact: Bethany Deuel,, 334.844.5519
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