As we begin the 2019-2020 academic year, I want to take this opportunity to welcome all new students, as well as our returning students, to the Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science. After a productive summer of planning and executing projects that will have a strong impact on the education of current and future students, we begin the first days of a new semester with much excitement about the potential for boundless opportunities that await us all. At this time, I would also like to reflect back and rekindle memories for earlier generations of alumni.
The DeMatteis School is less than a decade old, but did you know that our programs in engineering and computer science had their beginning back in the 1950s? Would you be surprised to know that one of the key founders of those programs, Dr. Stanley Goldstein, is still living upstate in Kingston, New York?
In fact, Goldstein was highlighted recently in the town newspaper in an article focusing primarily on his service as a navigator on World War II airplanes in the European Theater of Operations. Allied planes flew numerous bombing missions over German territory, causing massive loss of life both on the ground and among airmen whose planes were shot down in great numbers. The thirty missions Goldstein flew on were headed to military sites, and he directed the lead plane guiding the formation. He earned three medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross. Nevertheless, he returned home highly critical of the strategy employed primarily by the British Royal Air Force, which he believed deliberately targeted civilian populations to destroy enemy morale.
After the war, he utilized the GI Bill to study engineering, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1949 from the University of Oklahoma. After coming home to New York City where he had been born, he received a master’s degree in 1956 and a PhD in 1969 from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now known as the NYU Tandon School of Engineering). But for most of those years, and for a long time thereafter, he became a mainstay at Hofstra.
A student coming to Hofstra in the early 1950s was not presented with the diverse array of curricula available to today’s undergraduates. In 1955 Goldstein was one of five instructors, all with no more than bachelor’s degrees, in a department headed by the one faculty member of assistant professor rank, who was also the sole owner of a master’s degree, compared to today where every DeMatteis professor holds a PhD. The curriculum consisted of multiple drafting courses and a recognizable core of mechanical engineering classes: statics, dynamics, strength of materials, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, vibrations, and advanced strength of materials – not a single electrical engineering course, not to mention no bioengineering or civil engineering course. Goldstein was known to be a meticulous and keen instructor in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics.
Goldstein was the only one of the early group of six to continue to teach at Hofstra and saw the creation of the Bachelor of Engineering in Engineering Science program, which received its first accreditation in 1971. As department chair in the early 1980s, he oversaw the launch of the BS in Electrical Engineering and BS in Mechanical Engineering programs as well. By then, the faculty was composed of stalwarts such as Dr. Ronald Alvarez , Prof. Philip Panzeca, and Dr. David Weissman, who brought additional stability and professionalism to the engineering and computer science programs. Goldstein had served in many administrative positions as Hofstra transitioned from a college to a university, but he always said that his favorite was as department chair because of the close interaction with faculty and students.
After retiring in the mid-1980s, he eventually settled in bucolic upstate New York with his beloved wife, Wanda, whom he had met back in his Oklahoma days, and who passed away in Kingston in 2017. Today at 96 he still resides in the Hudson Valley, which the two of them loved so much.
If you walk around the Hofstra campus, you will see several historic plaques and memorials including several dedicated to Hofstra students and alumni who served their country in wars spanning generations. The oldest of them memorialize the World War II veterans. Hats off to Dr. Stanley Goldstein, a still-living distinguished former faculty member who served his country over 70 years ago and then went on to educate generations of engineers at Hofstra.
I wish you all the best for a productive start to the semester.