Rachelle Trujillo
Kat Heiden

Alumnus' donation supports entrepreneurship and innovation programming

Judy and Charlie McNeil ’71

Charles “Charlie” McNeil ’71 and his wife, Judy McNeil, of Denver, made a $5 million gift to Colorado School of Mines to support entrepreneurship and innovation programming.

The McNeils’ contribution will enable curriculum and programming across campus designed to instill entrepreneurial and business principles and foster innovative thinking through the newly named McNeil Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, led by director Dr. Werner Kuhr.

In recognition of their lifetime of service and philanthropy to Mines, a newly constructed classroom facility will be named McNeil Hall. It is the first component to be completed in a planned entrepreneurship and innovation complex, and its classrooms will be where all Mines students take their initial engineering design course.  

Charlie graduated from Mines with a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering and is a highly successful entrepreneur himself. With their strong Colorado roots, both Charlie and Judy are known for their philanthropic work and for generously supporting the causes that are important to them. The McNeils say they believe in entrepreneurship as a means to professional and personal success and want to ensure that every student at Colorado School of Mines has the opportunity to learn and grow through instruction and hands-on experiences with entrepreneurism.

Charlie says he has always adhered to his “PIE” principles: persistence, integrity and excellence. He identifies them as key components of his success and firmly believes that service and giving back are also key.

“Judy and I have been fortunate as a result of our commitment to the PIE principles and through the entrepreneurial spirit,” McNeil explained. “Mines continues to have the kind of students who have the wherewithal to become the next generation of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. We are so pleased to make this commitment.”

Colorado School of Mines and its unique brand of education produces distinct graduates known for their technical prowess, work ethic, and collaboration.

“It’s clear that entrepreneurs and innovators like Charlie McNeil will continue to be key to the future prosperity of our state and nation. We want our students to have entrepreneurial experiences at Mines and for them to acquire and practice the skills needed for success. That is why this topic is central to our MINES@150 Campaign,” said Paul C. Johnson, president of Colorado School of Mines. “We greatly appreciate Charlie and Judy’s visionary gift, which will impact every Mines student by providing them the tools to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. It is exciting to imagine how this gift might inspire and produce the Charlie McNeils of the future.”

About the Donors

Charles S. McNeil has broad experience in the coal, oil and gas, mining and power industries. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in 1971 and was honored with the Mines Distinguished Achievement Medal in 1998. At Mines, he is a member of the Foundation Board of Governors, the President’s Council, the Guggenheim Society and appointed by the Governor to serve on the Board of Trustees.

Since 1993, he has been Chief Executive Officer of NexGen Resources Corporation, an energy-focused company he founded, which supplies all of the coal requirements for Xcel Energy’s Texas power plants, provides alternative fuel and also has developed a diversified real estate portfolio. Under Mr. McNeil’s leadership, NexGen has been involved in multiple company startups.

Mr. McNeil is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado and a member of the Society of Mining Engineers of AIME among many other professional organizations. He is also active in serving the Denver community as a supporter of several charitable organizations, including as a member of the Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Denver Area Boy Scouts, Employers Council Board, Craig Hospital Foundation Board, Common Sense Institute Board, Steamboat Institute Board and more.

About Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines is a public university focused on science and engineering, dedicated to educating and inspiring students, advancing knowledge and innovating to address the great challenges society faces today—particularly those related to earth, energy and the environment.

Founded in 1874 with specialties in mining and metallurgy, Mines’ scope and mission have evolved to meet the needs of industry and society, producing distinctive graduates and revolutionary innovations, with impact to the energy, aerospace, civil infrastructure, defense, IT, health and earth resource industries.


Rachelle Trujillo

Assistant Vice President, Marketing Communications, Colorado School of Mines Foundation
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.