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Lab Dedication at Homecoming 2019 Will Honor the Legacy of Umid R. Nejib

The late Umid R. Nejib left a lasting legacy at Wilkes as the man who created the University’s engineering department and its four-year curriculum. Now that legacy will be celebrated at Homecoming 2019 when a lab will be dedicated in the Stark Learning Center to forever commemorate his impact at Wilkes.


Umid R. Nejib

“He truly was one of those people who bled blue and gold,” says Barbara King ’80, Nejib’s wife who worked at the University for 35 years and retired as associate dean of student affairs. “He just loved the place.”

Alumni, faculty and students who knew him return that affection, frequently affirming, “Wilkes University is better because he was here.”

Nejib, the founding dean of the School of Science and Engineering and professor of electrical engineering, joined Wilkes in 1965 and died in July 2002. He was originally hired temporarily to develop the engineering program and stayed for 37 years. Later in his career, he took on a new challenge to lay the groundwork for the establishment of the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy.

King said that teaching was his true passion and he was always proud of his students. He was committed to the type of education that Wilkes provides, which incorporates technical skills with a liberal arts education.

“He was so passionate about engineers who were educated in the liberal arts tradition,” King says. “He came from a background where he had all of the advantages of liberal arts learning, so that was very important to him.”

Because Nejib also came from a background where women were very influential, educated and successful, it was a point of pride for him to have both men and women in engineering from the start of the program.

“Even from the very first class of engineering graduates, in 1973, he was always proud that there were women in the class,” recalls King.

Walter Placek ’61 joined Wilkes as a faculty member around the same time that Nejib arrived at the University.  The two were colleagues who became friends and worked together for more than 30 years.

“He enjoyed doing all that he did,” recalls Placek. “When he was teaching, it was obvious that he enjoyed teaching. When he was chairing a meeting, he liked that too.”

Placek says that Nejib held various positions at Wilkes, but he specifically remembers how his late colleague respected and supported his fellow faculty members in his role as chair of the engineering department. “When he asked you to do something, he would provide you with the resources to follow through.”

King says that because Nejib was a modest man, he did not expect recognition for the work he did. She says that he would be surprised to have a lab named after him but it is an honor nonetheless.

Placek agrees, saying that naming the lab is an honor, but Nejib cared more about the success of the school.

“He wanted to do a good job,” says Placek. “He would prefer the degree, the program, the building, and the facility, to be successful. That, to him, would mean more than having a lab named after him.”

_U0A2148_FPOJoin us at Homecoming 2019 as we celebrate and honor Dr. Umid Nejib’s legacy at Wilkes by dedicating the Engineering Flex-Lab in the Mark Engineering Center, located on the first floor of the Stark Learning Center.

A donor plaque will be placed in the engineering lab recognizing individuals who contribute in honor of Dr. Nejib. For more information about making a gift in his honor, please contact Margaret Steele, chief development officer at margaret.steele@wilkes.edu or call 570-408-4302.