ExxonMobil trailblazer to be namesake of UM Chemical Engineering Department

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2024

ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Senior Economic Advisor, Barbara Beckmann, committed a $5 million estate gift to her alma mater, University of Mississippi, on Giving Day 2024.

The University now plans to call for the Department of Engineering to bear her name in honor of the legacy gift. Beckmann has blazed a trail for women in STEM for over six decades. She was the first female to graduate from the School of Engineering at Ole Miss in 1961.

In 2021, she celebrated her 60th anniversary working at ExxonMobil.

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The Barbara Kerr Beckmann Department of Chemical Engineering Endowment will provide monetary resources to support quality teaching, research and financial assistance for future generations of engineers.

“Engineering is about problem-solving, which is one of my major interests. My fascination with math and science led to my decision to study engineering,” Beckmann said. “My experience at the University of Mississippi provided the foundation for my successful career in the oil and gas industry with ExxonMobil.

“I owe a huge part of where I am today to Ole Miss because of the education, mentorship, and lessons that I learned being a female in a male-dominated industry. I feel the university is wonderful at preparing engineering students for their future careers, and I am proud to be a part of this institution.”

Beckmann started her career at ExxonMobil’s predecessor, Humble Oil and Refining Co, in 1961. Initially rejected for engineering roles due to her gender, she thrived as a computer analyst, developing simulation programs and advising on key technical projects. Despite being the only female engineer, she remained positive, focusing on professional growth and is the only engineer to achieve her job classification level in a domestic refinery in the company. An expert in refinery processing, the optimization of units, and general economics, Beckmann attributes her success to maintaining a high level of self-confidence and truly believing in her capabilities.

Beckmann is a pioneer and champion for inclusion, innovation, and mentorship. She’s seen firsthand the impact of mentors on her career, and has spent the past 60 years giving back, guiding and investing in other young employees – living out some of the very core values that make ExxonMobil what it is today.

The Barbara Kerr Beckmann Department of Chemical Engineering Endowment is open to gifts from businesses or individuals by sending a check, with the fund’s name written in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or by giving online at https://umfoundation.com/beckmann.