Robert W. Fitzgerald Challenge Fund

April Hammond-Berkol created the Robert W. Fitzgerald Fund Challenge in tribute to retired WPI Professor Robert W. Fitzgerald of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Professor Fitzgerald is a member of the WPI Class of 1953 and served as a professor of civil engineering, helping to establish WPI’s fire protection engineering program. His pioneering efforts to develop a rational, systemic approach toward analyzing building fire safety also culminated in the book, Building Fire Performance Analysis. Furthermore, Professor Fitzgerald is the 2020 recipient of the SFPE’s The David A. Lucht Lamp of Knowledge Award in recognition of his substantial contributions to increasing the opportunities for higher education in fire protection engineering.

For more than 30 years, WPI’s world-renowned program in fire protection engineering has been engaged in education and research aimed at solving real-world problems and making the world a safer place.

April Hammond-Berkol, a WPI graduate with degrees in mechanical and fire protection and who recently retired from Zurich Insurance Company as a risk engineer, created the fund with a $10,000 pledge. The fund was further endowed with a $13,500 pledge from David de Vries, P.E., FireTech Engineering Incorporated. The Robert W. Fitzgerald Fund Challenge Fund will be a permanent endowment, which will secure its perpetuity by only allowing use of the interest and investment income of the fund and leaving the principal intact. Proceeds of the fund will be sent to the Proulx Scholarship Fund to help secure its principal endowment.

The return on the investment will be transferred to the Proulx Scholarship Fund until the principal amount of the fund reaches a minimum level of $62,000, an amount considered adequate to sustain a quality Proulx Scholarship award for the near future. The SFPE Foundation board of governors may adjust the amount of returns transferred from the Fitzgerald Fund when the minimum principal required for the Proulx Scholarship award changes in the future. Once the minimum Proulx Scholarship Fund level is achieved, the income from the campaign can be used at the discretion of the board of governors.

The Robert W. Fitzgerald Fund Challenge Fund is a challenge donation. For every dollar donated to the fund, Hammond-Berkol and de Vries will contribute one dollar (up to a maximum of $2500 per year) in the years 2020 through 2026 for a maximum match of $17,500 during this time period.