Honors College Welcomes Albert and Joan Dorman

Written by: Julie Jacobs,
Albert Dorman (center) celebrates his birthday with Honors College students.

It’s a given that Albert Dorman ’45 has a special interest in the college that bears his name. After all, the mechanical engineering alum’s generous endowment helped to create the Albert Dorman Honors College in 1995, and since then enrollment has more than tripled, the curriculum has expanded to include research, colloquia and community service, and alumni have gone on to pursue careers at notable companies in a variety of industries.

What’s also unsurprising is the great respect Honors College students have for Dorman and his wife, Joan. That high regard was on full display when the couple visited recently from California and were treated to not only a luncheon with and presentations by some of the college’s students, but a birthday celebration as well — Dorman had just turned 91 years old. Even students who were not participating in the day’s activities stopped by to say hello and chat for a bit.

“Students are clearly appreciative of Dr. Dorman’s generosity and amazed by his accomplishments. They staged this event to showcase their own activities and accomplishments, and to explain what the Honors College means to them,” said John Bechtold, interim dean. “They did a terrific job and I am so proud of all of them.”

Joan and Albert Dorman in front of the placard highlighting many of his accomplishments.

Following lunch, the students manned their respective stations across the hallway as the Dormans made their way around the room. The presentations centered on topics and initiatives ranging from girls who code and entrepreneurial research and patents, to Honors Ambassadors and After-School All-Stars.

“The amount of knowledge and wisdom that he emanates when he walks into a room… There’s a huge, huge level of respect that I have essentially for a man that has allowed so many kids, people like me, to come to NJIT and try to be the best that we can,” commented Mohammad Nawaz, outgoing co-editor-in-chief of the college’s “Tech Observer” publication, who is graduating and going on to medical school.

Freshman and biomedical engineering major Karen Ayoub, who spoke about Women With STEAM, agreed: “Hearing the Dormans’ advice is really nice. They have so much hope in us as young scholars, so I feel like we’re inspired to continue doing what we’re doing.”

Both Sarah Aldakhlallah, a senior in biochemistry, and Taylor Tu, a junior in computer science — two of the four Honors College students behind the first NJIT Splash! event for high schoolers — also remarked on Dorman being an inspiration. “He makes me want to give back,” said Aldakhlallah.

The Dormans spoke with many students during their visit, including Katherine Cicala and Katrina David (top), Alana Dudley (middle), and Dylan Renaud and William Ruys (bottom).

After graduating from NJIT, Dorman earned a master’s in civil engineering from the University of Southern California in 1962. He went on to found what has become AECOM Technology Corporation in Los Angeles, today the largest architecture and engineering firm in the world, and has been recognized by his peers with many commendations. He is the only person ever to be elected as both a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Showcases of memorabilia and a placard spotlighting Dorman’s illustrious career and community service were recently installed in the Honors College’s second-floor lobby.

“We used to get back here at least once a year, but as years go by, we can’t always do that,” said Dorman about visiting the college, then noting about the students, “They pretend that the Honors College has made a difference in their life, but the fact of the matter is they’re making a difference. They’re spectacular!”