Mike Marberry is CEO of J.M. Huber, one of the largest family-owned companies in the world. Huber, in existence for about 130 years, manufactures a broad range of engineered materials that includes products like pharmaceutical and food ingredients as well as specialty chemicals and structural wood panels. As CEO, Mike is no stranger to air travel, having amassed nearly one million flying miles due to the company’s global operations in China, Europe, India and South America. In spite of the years of travel, Mike can remember the first time he ever flew on an airplane.
“My first time on a plane was as a graduate student at UK,” he recalls. “I had been conducting proprietary research for Phillips Petroleum and was given the opportunity to fly to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to present my research to the sponsors. It’s one of my fondest memories of my time at UK.”
Mike is a proud UK alumnus who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1981 and his master’s degree in chemical engineering in 1983. “Growing up in Paducah, I always wanted to go to the University of Kentucky,” he says. “My love of math and chemistry steered me toward a degree in chemical engineering and I never really considered attending a college other than UK.”
Mike’s successful career has enabled him to recently create a new scholarship that will be available to UK chemical engineering students this fall. The gift, which totals $50,000 over five years, is designed to provide not only scholarship aid, but also contribute to student enhancement. $2,500 annually for five years will be directed toward helping chemical and materials engineering students attend annual conferences and take interactive field trips. Another $7,500 annually for five years will be awarded as individual scholarships to specific chemical engineering students.
“It’s a great time for young people to better themselves through education and train for a productive job, but with the poor economy and weak outlook it’s not always possible for young adults to fund their college education. I feel that providing aid to a student who needs financial help to pay for college is the right thing for me to do,” explains Mike.
Mike was inducted into the College of Engineering’s Hall of Distinction in 2005 and serves on the advisory board for the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. Whether visiting for an advisory board meeting or greeting the newest Hall of Distinction class, Mike enjoys returning to the university he wanted to attend since childhood. “I can’t say enough about the role UK played in developing my passion for learning and cultivating the discipline and problem solving skills that have served me so well throughout my life and career,” he reflects.
Mike’s generosity provides a fitting link between the past and the future. “I have been more successful in my career than I ever dreamed possible as a young engineering student attending UK. It has given me a strong sense of gratitude to the university and a desire to help talented young people in Kentucky move forward with their college education regardless of their own financial situation.”