St. Thomas Dedicates Harpole Fountain

St. Thomas dedicated the Murray J. Harpole Legacy Fountain on Monday during a ceremony on John P. Monahan Plaza outside the Anderson Student Center.

The fountain is a gift from Pentair Ltd. and five current or former directors of the company in honor of the late Harpole, its founder and first chief executive officer. St. Thomas installed the fountain last summer after the student center’s January 2012 opening.

Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas, thanked Pentair chairman and CEO Randall J. Hogan and two predecessors – Eugene Nugent and Winslow Buxton – for the gift. Their contributions, when matched by a gift from members of the St. Thomas Board of Trustees, paid for the fountain and its future maintenance as well as a landscaping and irrigation system for the lower quadrangle.

“This spectacular water fountain honors Pentair for its global leadership in water technologies that help make the world a better place,” states a plaque at the fountain. “It also honors the entrepreneurial legacy of Murray J. Harpole, a cherished benefactor who provided early guidance that helped to lead to the eventual establishment of today’s flourishing St. Thomas programs in entrepreneurship and engineering.”

Harpole quit his job as an engineer at the age of 45 to start Pentair in 1966 and retired as chief executive officer in 1981, by which point revenues had grown to $238 million. His successors – Nugent (1982-1992), Buxton (1992-2001) and Hogan (since 2001) – attended Monday’s dedication ceremony, as did Harpole’s widow, Ruth, and members of her extended family.

Pentair today is a global leader in the water, fluid, thermal management and equipment protection industries. During Hogan’s tenure, Pentair’s annual revenues have increased from $2.6 billion to $8 billion, its market cap has grown from $1 billion to $11 billion and its workforce has more than doubled to 30,000 employees in more than 30 countries.

The St. Thomas-Pentair connection goes back 25 years, when the company funded a classroom during the 1989 expansion of Murray-Herrick Campus Center. Pentair established the Pentair Prize – a $5,000 scholarship to an entrepreneurship student – in 2000 and has sponsored the STEPS (Science, Technology & Engineering Preview Summer) camps that have brought 3,000 girls to campus since 2005.

Quent Hietpas, senior vice president emeritus of St. Thomas, served on the Pentair board for 25 years (15 as lead director). He emceed a luncheon program after the dedication ceremony.

Fountain Dedication

 A plaque identifying the Murray J. Harpole Legacy Fountain has been placed in John P. Monahan Plaza.