Professor Emeritus Robert Rinker is a former CalTech engineer whose military demeanor inspired affectionate chalkboard drawings of “Bullrinker” — a moose with a buzzcut. As one of the first professors in UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Chemical Engineering, Rinker influenced generations of students. In 2007, to celebrate the department’s 40th anniversary, grateful alumni established the Rinker Undergraduate Teaching Lab Endowment. The endowment was funded fully in 2020 and will maintain in perpetuity the lab’s state-of-the-art teaching capability. The ongoing support of engineering alumni exemplifies the power of alumni engagement.
Alumni enthusiasm for the Rinker Lab did more than raise money: Dean Rod Alferness responded by appointing to the lab a full-time professor, Mike Gordon, who holds the Founder’s Chair in Chemical Engineering in honor of Dr. Robert G. Rinker. Like his chair’s namesake, Gordon is beloved by students. All aspiring chemical engineers complete the Rinker Undergraduate Teaching Lab core curriculum.