Past College of Engineering Deans

Edward S. Keene (Dean, 1918-1926)

Edward S. Keene was born at Rock Island, Illinois on October 8, 1864. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science in engineering in 1890, and his M.E. degree in 1912, also from Illinois. He remained at Illinois teaching mechanical engineering from 1890-1892. He joined the North Dakota Agricultural College in 1892 as the head of the Department of Physics and Engineering. In 1895 he organized military training on campus and served as the captain with two other instructors serving as lieutenants. In 1918 he took over as Dean of the School of Mechanic Arts. When President Ladd resigned in 1921 to take his Senate seat, Professor Keene served as acting President. Dean Keene resumed his deanship when President Coulter was appointed.

In 1893 he married Myrtle Pearman of Champaign, Illinois and they had five children. Due to poor health. Dean Keene resigned in 1926 and he died August 12, 1928

Robert M. Dolve (Acting Dean, 1927-1929; Dean, 1929-1954)

Robert M. Dolve was born in Portland, North Dakota on July 26, 1883. He entered the NDAC High School in 1898 and continued to college at the AC, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in 1905. He received his master’s degree from Cornell University in 1919. He began as an instructor in agricultural engineering at NDAC in 1906, after a year with the US Geological Survey. In 1910 he was made a professor on agricultural engineering. In 1912 he was an assistant professor in mechanical engineering and a professor in mechanical engineering as of 1915. He served as a mechanical engineering professor until 1926 when he was made acting Dean of the School of Mechanic Arts and Dean as of 1929.

In 1954, the North Engineering building was renamed Dolve Hall in his honor.

In 1915 he married Blanche Moyer in Lewiston, Montana and they had three children. He died On October 27, 1961 in Los Angeles, California.

Henry S. Rush (Acting Dean , 1939-40)

Henry S. Rush was born in Collins, Iowa on January 23, 1885. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1905 from Iowa State College and his E.E. in 1922, also from Iowa State. Prior to joining the faculty at North Dakota Agricultural College in 1920 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, he worked at the North Dakota State School of Science in Wahpeton. He became a professor of electrical engineering in 1929.

In August of 1909 he married Edna E. Anderson at Colfax, Iowa and they had two children. He died on July 4, 1945 in Merced, California.

Frank C. Mirgain (Dean, 1954-1975)

Frank Mirgain was born in Chicago on October 19, 1909. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Purdue in 1931 and his M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Rutgers in 1933. He remained at Rutgers until 1949 as professor in civil engineering. He then joined the faculty of Cooper Union School of Engineering in 1949 as head of the Civil Engineering Department. In 1954 he came to NDAC as Dean of the College of Engineering. After retiring as Dean, he stayed on at NDSU as Public Programs Coordinator for a year.

In 1975, Mirgain was elected vice president of the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was named Dean Emeritus on July 1, 1976. He was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon and Sigma Xi, honor societies.

Mirgain married Velma N. Chase in 1931 and they had 3 children. While vacationing in Corpus Christi, Texas, he died in February 1977.

Joseph Stanislao (Dean, 1975-1993)

Dr. Joseph Stanislao was born on November 21, 1928 in Manchester, Connecticut. He received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering at Texas Tech in 1957, his M.S. in Industrial engineering at Penn State in 1959, and a Doctor of Engineering Science from Columbia University in 1970. Prior to coming to NDSU as Dean and professor in 1975, he served as Associate Dean at Fenn College of Engineering, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio. From 1962-1971, he was a Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island. In 1961 and 1962, he served as a consultant to the Republic of China under a program directed at evaluating a number of industries and how Chinese universities could render technical assistance. While at NDSU, he also served as Acting Vice President for Agricultural affairs, 1981-1983. He was instrumental in bringing the Robert Perkins Center for Computer Technology Transfer to campus in 1985. In 1991 he received the first Economic Development Award at NDSU. The award was given to an individual who has made a substantial contribution to the economic development of North Dakota through teaching, research, or service activities.

Don Richard (Interim Dean, 1994; Dean, 1994-1996)

Don Richard, a member of the NDSU faculty since 1974, and Chair of Civil Engineering and Construction since 1982, began serving as interim dean as of January 1994. In June of 1994, he was appointed to a two-year appointment as Dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture. Prior to coming to NDSU, Richard served as the chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering at the University of Denver.

Otto Helweg (Dean, 1996-2005)

Otto Helweg was born on February 1, 1936. He graduated with a bachelor’s in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He also has a M.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary, master’s from UCLA and Memphis State University, an M.B.A. for the University of Memphis and a doctorate in civil engineering (water resources) from Colorado State University. Prior to coming to NDSU, Dr. Helweg served as professor and chair of civil engineering at Memphis State University, visiting professor at Texas A&M assigned to King Faisal University in Saudi Arabia, and professor at the University of California, Davis. During his stay in Saudi Arabia, he helped establish a water resource center as well as acting as director of the agricultural experiment station.

In 1997 he was awarded the Hoover Medal, the world’s highest honor for humanitarian work in engineering, for his efforts in rural water supply improvements in arid and semi-arid lands. In 1998 he received Blue Keys Doctor of Service Award. In 2004 he received the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation’s “History of Innovations Prize.” Dean Helweg retired from NDSU in June 2005 and he passed away in November of 2008.

Gary R. Smith (Dean, 2005-2017)

Gary R. Smith was born on May 23, 1953. He received all his degrees from Purdue University. He received two bachelor’s, one in land surveying and the other in civil engineering in 1976, his master’s in civil engineering in 1984, and his Ph. D. in civil engineering in 1986.

Before serving as dean of the College of Engineering from 2005 to 2017, Dr. Smith joined the faculty of NDSU in 2000 as Director for Construction Management and Engineering. Prior to coming to NDSU, Dr. Smith served on the faculty of Iowa State University in the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering. Prior to his time at Iowa State he worked at Penn State where he served on the civil engineering faculty.

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