Our History

The story of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering is deeply entwined with the history of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It’s the story of American industry, technology, and innovation.

In 1925, Dr. William S. Speed and Mrs. Olive Speed Sackett established an endowment for the J.B. Speed Scientific School in honor of their father, the late James Breckenridge (J.B.) Speed. Funds from the  endowment are still used, to this day, to supplement the Speed School’s activities.

Who Was J.B. Speed?

James Breckenridge Speed (1844-1912) was an industrial pioneer in 19th century Louisville, and the scion of an illustrious Kentucky family. He was a major figure in the establishment of Louisville’s street railway system. He developed and operated large coal interests throughout Kentucky, and foresaw the significance of Portland Cement in the future growth of America.

These industries – transportation, energy, and infrastructure – were vital to Louisville’s growth and emergence as a major metropolitan area. They remain vital today, as J.B. Speed’s vision helped shape our city, region, and state. Speed School students carry forth the tradition of forward-thinking, made possible by the Speed family.

Speed Family Contributions

Dr. William S. Speed and Mrs. Olive Speed Sackett contributed generously to our campus facilities, including the James B. Speed Building, Frederic M. Sackett Hall, and William S. Speed Hall. In later years, Mrs. Virginia Speed, wife of Dr. Speed, contributed gifts and financial support prior to her death in 1969.

In 2003, the J.B. Speed Scientific School was officially renamed the J.B. Speed School of Engineering.

Speed School Deans

Emmanuel G. Collins
July 1, 2018 – present

Gail W. DePuy, Interim Dean
July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018

John S. Usher, Acting Dean
2015 – June 30, 2017

Neville G. Pinto
2011 – 2015

Mickey Wilhelm
2004 – 2011

Thomas R. Hanley

Leo B. Jenkins Jr., Acting Dean

Earl R. Gerhard

Harry C. Saxe

Robert C. Ernst

Ford L. Wilkinson

Bennett M. Brigman