For Harold Walker, director of the civil engineering program at Stony Brook, Yacov A. Shamash is a “straight shooter.” Shamash’s successful funding efforts helped establish the civil engineering program at Stony Brook University in 2012.
The program’s first graduates are expected in 2016, but companies on Long Island are already “lining up to hire them,” Walker said.
“They are eager for our students to start coming out from the pipeline,” Walker said.
Shamash recently announced that he will step down as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences after leading the school for more than two decades.
The challenge for the new dean, who is expected by the fall of 2015, will be to maintain the momentum of the program and to continue expanding research without compromising quality.
Shamash’s decision came after he was appointed as the special advisor to the State University New York Chancellor, Nancy L. Zimpher, for STEM Education and Research.
He is leaving behind a legacy of advanced programs and growth in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences faculty size and student enrollment.
“I am proud of where the college is and where it came from,” Shamash said. “We’ve seen tremendous transformation of the college, from expanding research to increasing the number of students that are coming in.”
During Shamash’s tenure, the CEAS undergraduate enrollment more than doubled and the faculty was increased by 45 percent.
Three new Ph.D. programs have been created in computer engineering, biomedical engineering and technology, policy and innovation. His funding accomplishments helped engineering across the board.
“I’ve worked with a lot of deans, and I’ve seen a lot of different styles,” Walker said, “What I really appreciate is that he is always trying to do the best for the College of Engineering.”
While serving as dean of Harriman School of Management and Policy (now known as the College of Business) from 1995 to 2003, Shamash was directly responsible for the establishment of the MBA program.
He was also actively involved in the creation of SUNY Korea, the first American university in Korea.
Shamash will continue to serve as Stony Brook University’s vice president for economic development.
He also holds a pivotal role in the START-UP NY program that helps create, expand and relocate businesses.
Since both the demands of the program and new companies are growing, he decided to step down as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences after almost 23 years to focus on the new job.
“It was time to get someone else,” Shamash said. “I have another hat and this other hat needs a lot more attention.”
The next dean will have to face the challenge of “managing the incredible growth that we’re seeing in engineering while at the same time finding resources that are becoming more scarce,” Walker said.
“Built upon the success of Dr. Shamash in building CEAS, the new Dean will need to propel CEAS to national prominence and ranking,” Dr. Imin Kao, professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and an associate dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said.
One of the major parts of Shamash’s legacy, according to Walker, has been the outreach to industries and especially on Long Island.
Across the country, local, state, regional and federal governments are looking for universities to be the catalysts for the economic growth.
“Dr. Shamash left CEAS which has been growing both in quality and quantity in the last two decades, with incoming students having the best quality ever, and research grants increasing more than six times over the years,” Kao said.
“Yacov is a valued colleague and leaves a lasting and important legacy at Stony Brook through his leadership in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences,” Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in a press release. “I look forward to working with him to continue to build our Economic Development initiatives including START-UP New York and all of the excellent programs currently in place, much due his vision and insight.”
Correction: April 8, 2015
A previous version of this article incorrectly named the director of the civil engineering program. His name is Harold Walker, not Harold Walter.