University of Vermont

College of

Governor names Dean Grasso chair of Environmental Engineering Advisory Council

Release Date: 05-07-2007

Author: Jon C. Reidel
Phone: 802/656-8206 Fax: (802) 656-3203

Dean Domenico GrassoDomenico Grasso, Dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), has been named chairman of Vermont's Environmental Engineering Advisory Council by Gov. James Douglas.

Grasso, along with other engineering professionals named to the council, will help state officials coordinate and implement efforts geared toward making the state an environmental engineering hub. Douglas signed an executive order creating the advisory council on April 30 at the Bennington County Industrial Corp. annual luncheon.

"By concentrating existing resources and investing in new infrastructure Vermont can become a global center for the study and application of environmental engineering that will solve environmental problems worldwide," said Douglas. "The environmental engineering initiative represents Vermont's best opportunity to make a real difference in global environmental issues like climate change."

Grasso has a history of working with government on the local, state and federal levels. He is former vice-chair of the United States Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board and is past president of the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors. Grasso recently chaired a U.S. Congressional briefing entitled "Genomes & Nanotechnology: The Future of Environmental Research."

Even before his appointment, Grasso had plans to bring the environmental engineering companies in the state to UVM to discuss their needs and develop collaborations. Grasso said that now that he's been appointed as council chair, he will continue to seek their counsel in trying to best serve the State of Vermont.

"I'm looking forward to talking with as many individuals as possible, especially the environmental professionals who have been successful here. I want to listen, learn and build on this cornerstone," said Grasso. "A first step might be to conduct a resource assessment and match it with a needs assessment of environmental industries, and then try to work the Vermont magic. Another key element will be to nurture the innovative and entrepreneurial potential of our universities and colleges and encourage environmental start-up companies, in a similar fashion to the success experienced in the Silicon Valley. We must build an attractive value proposition. Businesses deal in bottom lines and aren't going to move somewhere no matter how attractive it is unless it makes sense financially."

The creation of the council was initially proposed by Douglas during his inaugural address in January as part of his Vermont Way Forward economic development plan, considered a critical piece of his economic development strategy. The council is considered a key part of the governor's strategy to position Vermont on the cutting edge of technological advancements and environmental engineering. Grasso will advise the administration on implementing this initiative.

Prior to arriving at UVM in 2005, Grasso was Rosemary Bradford Hewlett Professor and founding director of the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, the first engineering program at a women's college in the U.S. He also served as professor and head of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut. In 1998, Grasso served on a World Bank–funded international team of scholars that established the first environmental engineering program in Argentina. He is past editor-in-chief of Environmental Engineering Science and associate editor of Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology. He has authored more than 100 technical papers and reports, including four chapters and two books.