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Ten Years: Mission, Milestone, Memories

SINCE 2012, JOE LABUZ HAS SERVED AS HEAD in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering; this summer Joe will step down as Head and turn his focus once again to research and teaching. Joe’s leadership has spanned four College deans  (Steven Crouch, Samuel Mukasa, Mos Kaveh, and Andrew Alleyne) and two University presidents, Eric Kahler and Joan Gabel, the U’s first female president. He held the helm at the onset of the COVID pandemic and through the following seasons of unrest.

Successful leadership of an academic department is challenging. It cannot be done without supportive, creative, and productive faculty and staff. Here are some accomplishments that the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering has worked together to accomplish over the last ten years. Some of these Joe led, others he initiated, inspired, or simply encouraged.

  • Ten new faculty (year hired): Lauren Linderman (2013); Sebastian Behrens (2014); Alireza Khani (2015); Ardeshir Ebtehaj (2016); Xue Feng and Michael Levin (2017); Raphael Stern (2019); Boya Xiong and Judy Yang (2020); Qizhi He (2021); and two more searches in progress. These outstanding faculty signal a very bright future for the department.
  • Updated strategic plan with a three-part mission statement, Learn, Discover, Transform, and a vision of Inspired and Innovative Engineering for Society. This led to the creation of numerous images that combine art and science to picture the department’s mission, vision, and accomplishments. These images, displayed on banners and panels throughout the building, serve to promote the research of our faculty and students. These panels also aid the teaching of fundamental engineering principles in the classrooms.
  • First-ever coffee table book featuring research images and descriptive text. The book has promoted the department’s mission of Learn, Discover, Transform among alumni, friends, and colleagues around the country. View the CEGE vision of Inspired and Innovative Engineering online (flipbook).
  • External review of the department. It required a deep examination of CEGE’s teaching, research, faculty, students, facilities, and administration. The external reviewers reported that they were “very impressed with the department, the people, the facilities, and the strategic plan offered by CEGE,” and concluded, “the department is in a good position to move to the next level.” Joe wrote to faculty and alumni, “I believe in our vision and our faculty, and it feels good to have my beliefs confirmed by unbiased leaders in the field.”
  • Three successful ABET reviews, a revised department name, and new major in Environmental Engineering. The new major is built on the department’s long history of research and teaching related to the environment. The department’s name now reflects the three undergraduate majors offered. In 2017, following the graduation of the first class of BEnvE majors, the program was accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. The entire department underwent successful ABET reviews in 2013 and 2019.
  • New initiatives from our Professional Advisory Board, including a written charter, industry roundtable retreat, working groups focused on experiential learning and student recruitment, internship opportunities for students, and homecoming events.
  • Programs for undergraduates: a 55% increase in the number of philanthropically funded undergraduate scholarship funds, new Internship Opportunity Program for Research and new Summer Engineering Research Program for Undergraduate Students, plus recruitment efforts, including recruitment scholarships and a pilot marketing and branding project directed by alumna Jane Lansing.
  • Anniversary of 30 years for CEGE’s award winning, underground building. That distinction came with challenges as well as kudos. Joe oversaw much necessary, but unseen maintenance. He also initiated aesthetic updates in the labs, halls, and student spaces of the building. 
Lacabanne Rock Mechanics Laboratory sign