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In Memoriam: Dean Carl Long 1928–2010

Carl Long, the dean credited with ushering in Thayer School’s modern era, died of complications from Lewy body disease on February 25 at his home in Hanover.

Dean Carl Long
Photograph courtesy of Thayer School archives.

Long came to Thayer in 1954 as a civil engineering professor. As dean from 1972 to 1984, he expanded faculty research and Thayer’s ties with the corporate world. He established the Cook Engineering Design Center, a partnership with industry that gave Thayer students a bridge connecting their engineering studies to industry. He increased faculty research in several areas, including biomedical engineering in collaboration with Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, ice engineering in collaboration with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, chemical process engineering experimentation in converting biomass into energy, and environmental fluid dynamics. In addition to expanding Thayer’s size and scope, Long engineered the school’s transition to financial independence from Dartmouth, established the Thayer School Annual Fund, and increased Thayer’s endowment.

Following his deanship, Long returned to the classroom. His ENGS 21: “Introduction to Engineering” course, where students created engineering solutions to real-world problems, was among the most popular in the Thayer curriculum. He also served as director of the Cook Engineering Design Center before retiring in 1992. He was a member of several professional and advisory organizations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society for Engineering Education, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Joanna, children Carl Jr. and Barbara Anne, and sister Anne.

Tributes: The Thayer community remembers Dean Long

Carl took over the school at a somewhat difficult time. He had a lot of responsibility for the overall well-being of the school, not just academic matters.
Alvin Converse, Thayer School professor emeritus

Carl taught a structures course about how you build things, a field in which he was incredibly capable. He would do calculations in his head in two seconds that would take us two hours — it was fun to see him in action.
John Collier ’72 Th’77, Thayer School professor

I believe that Carl was tapped for the job not only for his professional abilities, but because he was a kindly, sweet man, unflappable, and known to be “one of Thayer’s own.” His predecessors, Myron Tribus (1961-69) and David Ragone (1970-72), had been brilliant firecrackers, but they had left Thayer to become, respectively, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Science and Technology and dean of the University of Michigan College of Engineering. What was wanted was a steady leader, talented but calm, and Carl was the perfect choice, guiding Thayer through a few rocky moments to new levels of distinction. I served on the Thayer Board of Overseers (1971-77) at the time of Carl’s selection and during his early years, and was pleased to know him as a friend and colleague. I recall vividly the day that President Kemeny met with our board and spoke of financial problems that had led the College to consider the possibility of Thayer becoming an engineering department instead of continuing to develop as a graduate school. We assumed that this was just a wild idea tossed out by one of the College trustees, and voiced unanimous support for Carl Long, our new dean, and his plans for Thayer, which included establishing new partnerships with industry. President Kemeny said he was impressed by the board’s confidence in Carl, and that was the last we heard about changing the status of the Thayer School. The rest is history.
— Sam Florman ’46 Th’46, Thayer Overseer (1971-77)

Carl came to Thayer School shortly after my class graduated and departed for our military service. My tenure on the Dartmouth Society of Engineers (DSE) Executive Committee was largely when he was dean. I was President of the DSE in 1972-73, about the same time that Carl became dean. As I recall Carl approached the DSE to help start and support the Dean’s Fund, which later became the Thayer School Annual Fund. Fortunately the Annual Fund is now professionally managed compared to our original volunteer efforts. Another request of Carl Long’s was to help identify and recruit potential engineering students to apply to Dartmouth. Dartmouth did not lack in general applications, but he was looking for a larger pool that would select a major in engineering. Thayer School enrollment was down along with a national decrease in technology. We queried the high school councilors in Westchester County, N.Y. and gathered together a group in their junior year with science and math strengths. Carl came down to Hartsdale, N.Y. and gave a presentation on Thayer School and Dartmouth. Dean Long increased alumni support and faculty sponsored research. He was a strong leader for Thayer School. Carl is sincerely missed. He was a personal friend and a strong supporter of the DSE.
— Harlan Fair ’53 Th’54

I first met Carl Long when he joined the Thayer faculty when I was a teaching fellow. He impressed me even then with his quiet laid-back manner. With his low-key, thoughtful manner he rebuilt the relationship with the College, which had fallen into some disrepair. He increased enrollment, put Thayer on a strong financial basis, and hired some excellent faculty. He pioneered the innovation concept, which is one Thayer’s strengths. We started the Dean’s Fund over some strong reservations from the College, but Carl’s reputation was so strong with then current College administration that it proceeded and became a great success.
— Tom Tyler ’55, Thayer Overseer (1972–79)

Carl Long was a tough taskmaster, but seemed to have infinite patience. I recall thinking he worked as many hours (if not more) as the students, as the light always seemed to be on in his office. I also remember his ability to write complicated formulas on the blackboard — fast but legibly. He was a great asset for Thayer.
— Neil Drobny ’62 Th’64

I recall taking statics and other structures classes from Dean Long as an undergraduate. Carl was an excellent instructor, with a wry sense of humor, both inside and outside of the classroom. He was always available to us as students and encouraged us to not quit when faced with difficult challenges. I tended to ask a lot of questions in class, not all of which were well thought out. I recall Carl verbally trapping me once where I came out feeling (and looking) foolish. That day Carl taught me a lesson I never forgot. Later, when I became a professor myself, it was great to periodically stop in Hanover, visit with Carl, and recall the “good old days” while marveling at the changes he was making at Thayer. Carl will be remembered fondly by generations of grateful Thayer School students.
— John Walkup ’62 Th’63

Carl Long was my main professor and thesis advisor before becoming dean. He was terribly kind in pointing out my numerous academic shortcomings but always encouraging. When a good friend of my son’s who played football found he was plausible for Dartmouth and told me he planned to pursue engineering, I called Carl and asked if he would be willing to “show Barney around Thayer.” He said, “Sure!” When Barney returned, he told me Carl had met him at the airport, taken him to lunch, gave him a great tour at Thayer and the College, got him to the department of football, took him to dinner, and delivered him to his plane. He sure “showed him around!”
— Tom Jester ’63 Th’64

I am deeply saddened to learn of Carl Long’s death. He taught me, and later on my two brothers. I took three of Carl’s courses, all of which I enjoyed and learned a great deal from. Early in my career at Boeing, I was even able to put to use the knowledge on elastic thin shells that Carl taught me. He also oversaw my fifth-year project and a National Science Foundation grant I was awarded. In my five years at Dartmouth, he was one of the two or three professors who had the heaviest impact on my academic life there and real-world life thereafter. Carl had a great sense of when I needed a kick in the butt and when it was appropriate to hand out some praise. He was tough, fair, smart, and a great judge of people.
— Stu Schweizer ’66 Th’67

Carl and I were first acquainted when I came to Hanover in the fall of 1970 to continue my engineering graduate studies in the doctor of engineering program. I was focused on structural engineering, but the general nature of the curriculum at Thayer and the ability to focus on entrepreneurship suited me well. I was blessed to get work from Carl in testing concrete samples, and also in some soils engineering testing. In an entrepreneurial sense, he practiced what he preached, and I found him to be very practical as a boss and enjoyed his confidence as a subordinate. In addition to working toward a D.E., I was busy trying to advance my athletic career. As the winter of 1971 gave way to the spring of 1972, the Munich Olympics loomed ever larger in my mind. I finished up my class work in the spring of 1972 and left for Europe. I was fortunate to make the Olympic team of my country, and I ran the 800m for Iceland on nationwide TV, with Carl in the home audience, perhaps a bit surprised that his erstwhile graduate student was gracing his TV screen from Germany. The winter that followed was dedicated to finishing my thesis, which I did by springtime. Carl sat on my advising committee and the thesis defense went well for both of us, I am sure. Carl was an unlikely candidate for the deanship of Thayer, but he surprised even his harshest critics with a pragmatic leadership style that launched Thayer into an aggressive development campaign and laid the foundation for the rapid changes that were then to take place under his successor, Charles Hutchinson.
— Thorsteinn Gislason Th’73

Before I ever took a class from Dean Long, I worked on a Winter Carnival snow sculpture in front of Cummings Hall that featured a walrus with Dean Long’s signature moustache. During my B.E. year, I took Dean Long’s “Reinforced Concrete” course. There were only four of us in the class, and Dean Long made it a unique learning experience. Dean Long made a point of observing our reaction to his lectures and would pause whenever one of us displayed befuddlement. He did his best to assure himself that none of the four of us was being left behind on any new issue.
— Phil Moy ’76 Th’77

When I got accepted to Dartmouth, Dean Long gave me a warm welcome and encouraged me to study engineering. It was pretty rare for a female to be at Thayer at the time, and his encouragement was helpful. He also played a pivotal role in helping me to take my sophomore summer abroad, enabling me to do a double major in Asian studies and engineering and learn Chinese. I remember him as thoughtful, caring, wise, and personable; he had a big impact on my studies, which has shaped my life since Dartmouth. I have had a number of senior leadership roles in technology and enjoy speaking Chinese to this day.
— Anne Barr ’83

So saddened to hear of the passing of Dean Long. I actually had been meaning to call Dean Long for many years to personally thank him for allowing me to graduate despite being one of the most academically challenged engineers in Thayer history. Here’s the story:

My final semester, I needed to complete two engineering courses to get my A.B. — materials science and distributive systems and electromagnetic fields. Unfortunately, I “flagged” the distributive systems course. I was advised that I could either attend summer school and take the course over (which I considered to be a fate worse than death) or modify my major with Russian course credits. The latter plan required securing the agreement of the Russian and engineering departments. When I humbly approached Dean Long, he could not have been more understanding and gracious, though he did suggest (with tongue in cheek) that I might not want to accept the job offer I had received to be a nuclear propulsion engineer on a naval submarine! And so, I became Dartmouth’s first-ever engineering modified with Russian major. While I went on to a career at Procter & Gamble in brand management and subsequently became a quite successful entrepreneur, I will be forever indebted to Dean Long for understanding my situation and allowing me to graduate.
— Mike Collette ’84

My memories of Dr. Long are nothing but fond and thankful. I give him much credit for my eventually becoming a structural engineer (primarily because of my experience in his structural analysis course, in which he would sometimes pose a problem he had never solved and we would work our way through it), and also a licensed professional engineer (primarily because of the B.E. projects courses, in which he often mentioned the importance of professional licensure to engineering). Dr. Long also helped guide me to selecting a good graduate school. Several years ago, when I wrote him a letter thanking him for his affect on my career, he even remembered the specifics of my grad school choices. A truly wonderful man.
— Scott A. Sabol ’88 Th’88

Categories: The Great Hall, In Memoriam

Tags: alumni, curriculum, faculty, history, leadership

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