Alumnus Salisbury shares his success through new scholarship
Retired professional engineer and mechanical engineering alumnus Robert Salisbury (BSME ’69) knows how expensive college can be. In response, he and his wife created the Robert L. and Susan G. Salisbury Engineering Visionary Scholarship.
“I credit the University of Illinois with much of my success,” Salisbury said. “Anyone who can afford to do so needs to give back not only to the university but to other good causes as well.”
Their gift, part of the college-level EVS Initiative, provides renewable scholarships to undergraduate students, focusing on priorities such as increasing the number of women, under-represented minority students, and first-generation college students.
As a student, Salisbury received a state representative scholarship of $250 per semester—a substantial amount at the time. He also worked during his summer breaks.
“I had no debt when I graduated and I was from a blue collar family,” Salisbury said. “That’s not as possible in today’s economy as it was in the 60s and 70s.”
Originally from Centralia, Illinois, after graduating, Salisbury went on to serve for four years in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. More than a decade later, he started a commercial HVAC business in Houston called C-Airs-S Mechanical. The company was incorporated in 1986.
The highlight of his career was becoming a 50 percent owner in C-Airs-S, which specializes in HVAC for hospital and telecommunication work. The company has grown to support 125 employees and more than $20 million in sales.
Salisbury remembers his years at Illinois fondly despite the many long and tedious hours of work and studying. “I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait for graduation,” Salisbury said. “In retrospect, it’s much easier to look back and realize that the time spent at Illinois was really one of the best times in my life.”