Fletcher H. “Bud” Griffis, retired construction professor emeritus at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers global builder, has died. He was 82.
Griffis, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, was a member of the ASCE Board of Direction from 1997-99 and served as director and past president of the Society’s Metropolitan Section, past chair of the Committee on Professional Publications, and past chair of the Construction Division.
As New York district engineer for the Corps, he managed all Army and Air Force construction projects from southern New Jersey to Maine and from Greenland to Labrador. He was also responsible for water resource development and regulation in the Northeast and was supervisor of New York Harbor.
When as USACE New York district engineer he led completion of the $1.25 billion expansion of the Fort Drum military base in the late 1980s, with what one Corps official noted as an “unmercifully compressed” schedule, it became the 10th largest U.S. military installation.
Griffis later taught at Columbia University’s department of civil engineering and engineering mechanics (1984 to 1999), as well as served as head of the construction engineering program and director of the Center for Infrastructure Studies.
“We grieve the loss of Bud, our most affable colleague, whose arrival in the department transformed a nascent Construction Engineering option into a most vibrant and popular concentration,” said Rene Testa MS’60 and EngScD’63, a former professor emeritus of civil engineering.
Griffis, an ASCE Life Member, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and earned two master’s degrees (construction engineering and operations research, 1965) and his Ph.D. in civil engineering (construction, 1971) from Oklahoma State University. He was also a graduate of the U.S. Army War College.
He was an early proponent of BIM technology, and he specialized in application of operation research and systems analysis principles to construction planning, operations, and management, and in applying 3D computer models to CM.
When he retired in December 2020, it was from Tandon School in New York. During his tenure, he served as provost, dean of engineering and applied science, vice president for academic affairs, department head, and professor, helping make NYU a hub of research on emergency preparedness.
Griffis was an early observer of and activist on climate change risks. He also served as president of NYC Post SAME Scholarship Fund Inc., which has provided millions of dollars in scholarships to thousands of U.S. engineering and architecture students.
He was a member of the National Committee for Infrastructure Research and Policy. He published numerous technical papers and reports, and was the author of two textbooks: New York City Infrastructure: A Policymakers’ Guide (1996) and Construction Planning For Engineers (McGraw-Hill 2000).
In the last decade, Griffis was involved in research into second-generation magnetic levitation vehicle infrastructure.