In memoriam

Robert G. Dean, former Unidel Professor, dies


11:33 a.m., March 6, 2015--Robert G. Dean, former Unidel Professor at the University of Delaware, died Feb. 28 in Gainesville, Florida, where he lived. He was 84.

Dr. Dean served as Unidel Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and the then College of Marine Studies at UD from 1975-82. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1980.

Michael Chajes, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UD, called Dr. Dean "a giant in the field of coastal engineering" and said that he graduated many notable students, including former UD professor Tony Dalrymple, who is now on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University. 

An obituary published March 5 in The New York Times noted, "Though he rarely took a leading role in particular projects, his research, writing and teaching made him the most influential coastal engineer in the United States."

A researcher, consultant, practitioner and professor in coastal engineering, Dr. Dean taught at several universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Washington and the University of Florida, where he was named Emeritus Graduate Research Professor upon his retirement in 2003.

From 1985 to 1987, he was director of the Division of Beaches and Shores in the Florida Department of Natural Resources.

A member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, he authored or coauthored three books, more than 20 book chapters and more than 200 technical publications.  He was active in several professional organizations studying and promoting the health of beaches

After receiving an associate degree from Long Beach City College, he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of California Berkeley in 1954, a master's degree in oceanography from Texas A&M University in 1956 and a doctorate from MIT in 1959. 

He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Phyllis (Thomas) Dean, daughter Julie (Dean) Rosati of Arlington, Virginia, and son Tim Dean and his wife Ruth Dean of Gainesville. He had five grandchildren.

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