Alumni Spotlight: Jonathon Kerr | WMU Alumni Skip to main content

Alumni Spotlight: Jonathon Kerr

Jonathon Kerr (B.S.’82 Paper Engineering) received a scholarship from the Paper Technology Foundation at WMU:

I transferred to Western from the University of Florida where I was pursuing an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering. To pay for my education, however, I had to have a co-op job that took me off campus every other semester. As a result, I couldn't take classes in the required sequence. I was tired of fighting the calendar so looked for an opportunity to earn an engineering degree where I could receive financial support. The WMU Paper Technology Foundation (PTF) offered merit-based scholarships, making it easy for me to transfer and establish a semester of work before receiving their generous support. Without the PTF scholarship, I never would have gone to WMU and would not have the fantastic career in the paper industry that I have enjoyed since graduation.

Beyond the obvious financial support, the PTF introduced me to an entire industry where engineering talent was very much needed and the positions were all very well compensated. The paper industry has been very good to me. I've never been a day without work, and every work day has been thoroughly enjoyable. I love what I do (and what I've done) because of the people I've met and the places I've been fortunate enough to go. I've worked on every continent and seen parts of the world I never thought I would see. I have friends in every corner of the globe and feel truly blessed to be a valued member of our professional association.

I was able to retire early in 2011 and take a couple of part-time jobs, one at Miami University as the Executive Director of the Paper Science and Engineering Foundation. (The other as a consultant supporting clients using the company's business analysis software.) Essentially, I was doing the job to pay back current day students studying for careers in the paper industry, giving them the same opportunities that PTF gave to me in 1980-1982. I started my own consulting firm in 2018 and have been helping young engineers entering the paper industry to understand some of the process technologies that are prevalent in the industry.

I couldn't be happier with the education I received at Western, so my wife and I have committed to endowing a scholarship with the Paper Technology Foundation for students who are studying for a career in the paper industry. We fully support the Paper Engineering program at Western and are very pleased to see that the school has committed to the ongoing support of the program as well as the investments made in the pilot paper machine and recycling facility!

Kerr and Friends
Taken in Columbus when WMU played Ohio State. Kerr is wearing the No. 2 jersey.


Read more stories from WMU alumni about how scholarships had an impact on their education and future success. If you have a story about how scholarships received from WMU helped with your success, and you’d like to share it with the WMU alumni association audience, please let us know by completing this form.