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President's View Mail Class Notes Features

Making A Difference

Laying a Foundation for the Future

It was 1910 when Charles Blitman ’14 set foot on the Rensselaer campus and began a family tradition of accomplishment and involvement. Today, his son, Howard Blitman ’50, is continuing a nearly 100-year legacy and demonstrating in tangible terms his great affection for Rensselaer.

Howard Blitman graduated from Rensselaer with a degree in civil engineering in 1950 and has stayed connected ever since. He built Blitman Building Corporation in New York into one of the nation’s most successful and influential commercial building companies in the U.S. Professional Builder has ranked the company as one of 400 top home builders.

He has been involved in construction projects totaling more than $1 billion, including the New York Port Authority, high-rise and mid-rise apartments, schools, medical facilities, and more. “A lot of my success in life is due to the training and preparation I received at RPI,” Blitman says. “I got something immeasurable at RPI — I learned how to operate in the world, how to think.”

Blitman has served as chairman and as a member of Rensselaer’s civil engineering advisory board, as a member of the advisory board of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and is the recipient of three of the highest honors awarded to Rensselaer alumni by the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA): the Alumni Key Award, the Albert Fox Demers Medal, and the RAA Fellows Award from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

He is an active member of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), having served as its president for 2002-2003. One of his proudest accomplishments at NSPE is the establishment of a scholarship that will allow underrepresented students to attend technical universities like Rensselaer. It should be noted that a scholarship, bearing his father’s name, provides financial support to current Rensselaer students.

His sense of gratitude toward Rensselaer has led him to endow the Howard N. Blitman ’50, P.E., Career Development Professor in Engineering. “I have been lucky in life and feel an obligation to repay that and to express satisfaction for the education I received,” Blitman says.

The named professorship will be awarded to a junior faculty member in the School of Engineering, with first preference for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. According to George List, chairman of the department, the individual named to this chair is likely to focus on such cutting-edge areas as environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, or transportation engineering.

“Named professorships are the most effective means of ensuring that top scholars come to Rensselaer and stay here,” says Bud Baeslack ’78, dean of engineering. “They make us more competitive in hiring new faculty.”

“If graduates stop and think about their lives — if they had any success or pleasure — they will see that it all started at Rensselaer,” Blitman says. “It is only fitting to honor that with a proper contribution.”

Rensselaer Magazine: Spring 2004
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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Communications.

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