DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science SEAS Dean's Update

DeMatteis Dean Sina Rabbany: Remembering Dr. Bruce Lister

Behind every successful engineering school is a group of dedicated people who volunteer their time to better its programs and image, and who themselves represent the finest aspects of professionalism to which students, faculty, and administrators can aspire. I am referring to the industry boards who most often remain behind the scenes while dispensing valuable advice and key financial support for many of a school’s successful initiatives. Certainly, the DeMatteis School is fortunate in the composition of its Dean’s Advisory Board, which meets twice a year for all-day sessions on campus, and at other times, consults with us on many aspects of what we do as educators.

I am reminded of this most especially with the passing in February of one of the board’s most illustrious and generous members, Dr. Bruce Lister, who lived a very active life for 96 years. Bruce was a diligent attendee at our meetings both now, and going back twenty years, when he joined its predecessor, the Industrial Advisory Board of the Department of Engineering.

Bruce served in the Navy in World War II in East Asia, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering at Columbia University. For many years he worked at General Foods and retired from Nestle Foods Corporation as vice president of corporate affairs after over forty years in the food business. He also served many years as chairman of the Nassau County Board of Health. His association with Hofstra was with both the Department of Chemistry and with our school, both of which he and his wife, Doris, supported with major contributions for scholarships, buildings, and research. Outside the university, they have been active members of their church, and spearheaded community interfaith initiatives and other worthwhile projects with great pride and magnanimity. 

Bruce had a wealth of stories about working in the tea industry, among other experiences and exhibited the firmest handshake up until the end of his life. Only around age 94 did he start to rely on a cane to help him navigate his tall frame around a conference room. He was an inspiration to everyone with whom he came in contact, from students presenting their research projects at board meetings to senior faculty members and industry leaders sitting with him at the board table.

As I mentioned, it is generous individuals such as Bruce who guarantee that we can offer the most comprehensive education to rising generations of engineers and computer scientists. And that array of programs now has one additional component: we are finalizing plans for a summer program (starting in 2020) that is geared toward preparing women students for success in the corporate high-tech world. More about that initiative will come soon, but suffice it to say for now that it would not have come to fruition without the financial and moral support of benefactors who are continuing the legacy of the unforgettable Bruce Lister.

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