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Dean and Chrysler Professor of Engineering, College of Engineering and Science

Dean Emeritus



Professor Leo Hanifin’s academic career at University of Detroit Mercy includes twenty-one years as Dean of the College of Engineering and Science, two years as a Mechanical Engineering Professor, and  one year as a Special Assistant in the Dean’s office.  Dean Hanifin has earned Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (1969), a Master of Engineering (1972), and a Doctor of Engineering (1975) degrees from the University of Detroit.

Dean Hanifin was responsible for all aspects of leadership and administration of a complex college serving a diverse urban, industrial and professional community.  During his tenure, he increased female representation on the faculty from 12% to 26%, attracted over thirty grants from the National Science Foundation for curriculum and laboratory development, initiated four new international programs with leading universities in Mexico, China, Australia, and Canada, and developed partnerships with MiT, RIT, the Navy and six major corporations.  He also worked toward the major expansion of alumni relations activities and fundraising from alumni and corporations for program and capital development.

In a letter supporting Dean Hanifin’s nomination the author wrote: “I was privileged to have Leo as a partner at the forefront of industry-university cooperation in engineering education for two decades.  Over that period he consistently demonstrated excellence as an engineering educator, showed a truly unique capacity to not only understand but project the future educational needs of industry, exhibited creativity and flexibility in developing new degree and certificate programs to respond to those needs, and, most importantly, accomplished all of this with an all-consuming commitment to the betterment of the College of Engineering and Science.”

An example of Dean Hanifin’s leadership in curriculum and development was the Master of Science in Product Development.  “This program was developed by an academia-industry consortium with Leo as co-lead.  The program was designed to meet an emerging industry need for engineers capable of leading cross-discipline teams through structured program management techniques and with business acumen.  The program became the Master’s program of choice for Ford Motor.  The onsite Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering program at Ford Motor was conceived at the point in time when designers were moving from the drafting table to the computer work station.  The program provided designers formal engineering training to combine with their geometric design skills.  Many of the most highly skilled engineers at Ford were graduates of this program.”

In the nomination letter, the current Dean of Engineering and Science, Gary Kuleck, noted Hanifin’s transit research as part of the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium.  Dean Kuleck wrote “He has led a team of 30 faculty, students and staff on the factors which enable or inhibit the development and operation of effective regional transportation systems in Southeast Michigan.  This team, which included faculty from architecture, law, and civil engineering, included public opinion studies which have resulted in peer-reviewed reports that have become the basis and support for transit advocacy in the region.  Professor Hanifin continues with that research vein into retirement.

From 2006 to 2012 Dean Hanifin was the Director of a five-university coalition, Michigan Ohio University Transportation Center, a coalition established by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.  University of Detroit Mercy was the lead institution that performed research and developed educational and technology transfer programs focused on alternative fuels, transportation system efficiency, and supply chains.  In one of the MIOH project Hanifin led the team that developed the preliminary plan for the Woodward Transit Catalyst System (now M-1 Rail).

In the nomination letter Dean Kuleck wrote “Dean Hanifin demonstrated by example great scholarly productivity as a Dean.  During his tenure, he published 40 peer-reviewed articles or conference papers, with PI or lead on over a dozen large funded projects and was selected as session chair or lead organizer for a number of engineering conferences.  His leadership helped spur the development of programs, curricular offerings and opened doors to new academic and industrial partnerships.”

Dean Hanifin demonstrated exceptional professional commitment by serving on numerous Boards of Directors including the Engineering Society of Detroit, ASEE divisions, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Ford Design Institute/Ford Motor Company, Greenfield Coalition, Michigan Material and Processing Institute, and five Citizen Advisory Committees on Transit/Rail.  Hanifin chaired the Transit Committee for Mayor Duggan’s Transition Team and served on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee of the Detroit Metro Regional Transit Authority and the Board for M-1 Rail.

Dean Leo Hanifin’s nomination for Dean Emeritus was approved and conferred by Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi, President of University of Detroit Mercy on August 17, 2015.

University of Detroit Mercy

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