A Place to Thrive
In 1942, Irwin Frankel earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Tulane University. After serving in World War II as an aircraft maintenance officer with the Army Air Corps, he earned a master's degree from Case Institute of Technology and a doctorate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. When he retired as a chemical engineer in 1995, he held three U.S. patents.
Throughout his life and career, Frankel's connection to Tulane remained strong. He established a number of gift annuities supporting both the School of Science and Engineering and the Tulane Band. And he named Tulane beneficiary of several IRAs, life insurance policies, and a trust — significant gifts that are helping fund the new $7.4 million Donna and Paul Flower Hall for Research and Innovation.
Flower Hall replaces the outdated Taylor Laboratory on the uptown campus. The new 24,000-square-foot building features collaborative open workspaces, study rooms, and offices. When completed, it will attract scholars, expand research, and help establish Tulane as a science and engineering powerhouse.
“I’m sure Irwin would be extremely proud of this state-of-the-art facility,” said close friend Joseph Kanyan. “He was always appreciative of what Tulane had done for him as a student.”
Along with Frankel’s gift, other major support for the facility comes from Tulane benefactor Paul Flower, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and other donors.
“Dr. Frankel understood the need to create a research environment where our faculty and students could thrive,” says Nick Altiero, dean of the School of Science and Engineering. “His generous bequest will help make that possible.”
In honor of Frankel’s gift, an area within the new facility will bear his name.
Always A Part To Play
Of course, chemical engineering was not Frankel’s only passion. He also carried the music of New Orleans with him wherever he went.
An accomplished clarinetist, Frankel played with the Niagara Falls Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago's Southside Symphony, Baltimore Recreation Symphony Orchestra, and Richmond Concert Band. For 35 years beginning in 1974, he played with the City of Fairfax Band Association’s Concert Band and helped found and lead that organization's Dixieland Band.
Frankel joined his fellow alumni in 2007 as part of the Tulane Alumni Band, entertaining the crowd during the halftime show at Tulane's homecoming game.
In 2011, he was laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. At Flower Hall and elsewhere on campus, his generous spirit lives on.