Bob Segner, a beloved Texas A&M professor of construction science whose legions of former students occupy leadership positions throughout the building industry, is retiring at the conclusion of the spring 2016 semester ending a stellar 46-year teaching career.
Administrators and staff at the Department of Construction Science are planning an event this coming spring to commemorate his many years of service.
“Segner has had an immeasurable impact in the construction industry by successfully preparing thousands of students who are now enjoying careers as construction managers,” said Joe Horlen, head of the department. “He is the department’s most recognized faculty member and he will be missed.”
After earning a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Construction degree in 1969, Segner joined the Texas A&M faculty as a graduate student in 1970, then earned a Master of Architecture in Construction Management Degree in 1971.
He is lauded by his many former students for turning them into leaders while teaching them what they’d need to know to succeed in the construction industry.
“Builders pursue Texas A&M construction science graduates because of their leadership skills and discipline,” said David Fleming ’75, vice president of Sundt Construction, Inc. and one of Segner’s former students. “Bob molds students into the future managers and leaders of our industry and it’s a great comfort to know he’s been doing this for so many years.”
Another of Segner’s former students appreciates his emphasis on the basics as a building block in construction education.
“Too often, construction folks do not understand the basics before they are moved up the line,” said Keith Dalton ‘85, president and CEO of KDW, a design-build company based in Houston. “Segner’s sincere effort to make sure everyone understood the importance of learning and applying the basics of construction cannot be overstated. He made sure all his students clearly understood the basics so they would have a solid foundation of wisdom to draw upon as they took on more challenging projects.”
Another of Segner’s former students, Tom Owens ’73, recalled how his first building construction class was led by a young, hardnosed instructor he described as “Mr. No Nonsense.”
Preparing for each class took longer than the time he and his fellow students actually spent in class, said Owens, senior managing director & chief risk officer at Hines, a Houston-based developer, and an outstanding alumnus of the College of Architecture.
“About mid-semester, after realizing that you weren’t going to flunk out of his class, you began to discover that the course was interesting and that learning could be fun,” said Owens. “You knew that this young, tough teacher was working to get the best out of you, to help you excel and be the best you could be.”
Segner taught more than construction materials and methods, said Owens.
“He was molding you and teaching you about character, integrity, honesty and discipline, the very things you need, not just for your first job, but throughout your life.”
Bob Flowers ’80, who entered Texas A&M with the intention of becoming a physician, soon became interested in the university’s building construction program. After a couple of Segner’s classes, he knew he’d made the right choice.
“Listening to and learning from him three times a week over the course of two semesters sealed my fate. I knew that being a builder was what I really wanted to do,” said Flowers, principal of Endurance Builders. “I had many other professors, but none of them was as animated and passionate about their course of study.”
Segner has influenced three generations of the Alvarado family: Skip, '68, president of Habboush Group Enterprises' Energy Group, his daughter Daphne, a construction science student, and granddaughter Kassi.
"Daphne and Kassi both want Bob to present them with their Aggie rings, even though Kassi isn't going to school to become a builder," said Skip. "Bob inspires students who aren't even in the construction science program."
Another Segner tribute came from Stan Marek ’69, chief executive officer of Marek Brothers Systems and a founding member of the department’s Construction Industry Advisory Council.
“Segner has been the guiding light of the construction science program at Texas A&M for decades,” said Marek. “He sets the standard of excellence in education with a total commitment to the welfare of the ‘young people,’ as he calls them. His popularity with students is unsurpassed.”
Segner’s teaching excellence led to recognition from students as the department’s outstanding faculty member in 2012, 2011, 2009, 2007 and 2003.
He also earned The Association of Former Students’ college-level Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997 and 1985 and is the frequent selection of graduating construction science students to provide an address at a semester-ending ceremony where they receive commemorative hard hats from the Department of Construction Science.
In 2007, Segner earned a lifetime achievement award from Tom Regan, dean of the College of Architecture at the time, for consistent excellence in graduate and undergraduate teaching, curriculum development and outstanding faculty performance in research and service.
Regan also asked Segner to be part of a faculty team that traveled to Washington, D.C. to assist Texas A&M students with their entry in the 2007 Solar Decathlon, a contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy in which student teams from universities across the country designed and built cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive solar-powered houses.
At the Solar Decathlon, Segner, a former yell leader, conducted a yell practice on the national mall with Texas A&M students and faculty.
When historic Francis Hall in the heart of the Texas A&M campus was undergoing a renovation to become the new home of the Department of Construction Science, one of Segner’s former students, Don Weaver ’76, found a permanent way to honor him by donating $250,000 to name an auditorium, the centerpiece of the building, after Segner.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor Bob, who has played such a pivotal role in the education and careers of Aggie construction science students,” said Weaver, president of The Urban Companies, a Houston-based real estate and design/build company.
Weaver’s son, David Lee ’93, a vice-president at the company, is also a former Segner student.
His donation inspired matching donations and an ongoing departmental campaign for former students to sponsor seats in the auditorium.
Segner has also played a major role in curriculum development at the Department of Construction Science.
He originated and developed two courses, Materials and Methods of Construction and Introduction to Construction Contracting, that are bedrocks of the Texas A&M construction science curriculum. Both courses have been widely emulated and incorporated into other programs of construction management higher education across the nation.
In addition to authoring or coauthoring numerous peer-reviewed publications that have appeared in academic journals, conference and trade association publications, he co-authored three books that are standard texts in construction science education.
His books include “Construction Contracting,” now in its 8th edition, described by the publisher as a “cornerstone of the construction library … a text that presents the hard-to-find information essential to successfully managing a construction company, applicable to building, heavy civil, high-tech, and industrial construction endeavors alike.”
Segner also co-authored ”Construction Project Management,” hailed by its publisher as the preeminent guide to all aspects of project management, and “Construction Supervision,” which, said its publisher, “covers all supervisory situations one is likely to encounter on a commercial, industrial, or institutional construction project.”
During his years at Texas A&M, Segner also served in several administrative positions, including associate head of the Department of Construction Science, associate dean for continuing education and research at the College of Architecture, and acting director of the college’s Center for Housing and Urban Development.
This article was originally published by the College of Architecture.
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