Zvi Galil

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Zvi Galil was the thirteenth dean of SEAS. Galil earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees (both summa cum laude) at Tel Aviv University, an institution his father helped establish. After completing his doctorate at Cornell University, he joined Tel Aviv University’s computer science department in 1976, becoming department chair in 1979 and a full professor in 1981.

In 2006, in his 25th year at Columbia, Galil became president of Tel Aviv University. He resigned and joined the faculty of Tel Aviv in 2009. In 2010 he was named Dean of Georgia Tech's College of Computing.

Columbia Career

He joined Columbia’s computer science department in 1982, became the Julian Clarence Levi Professor of Mathematical Methods and Computer Science in 1987, and chaired the department from 1989 to 1994. He became dean and the Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor of Engineering in 1995.

His tenure as dean was among most accomplished in the School’s history. He increased the number of engineering faculty from 95 to 150, established the biomedical engineering department, and expanded the range and scope of other departments.

Under his leadership, the School’s endowment grew dramatically. One of his notable actions was renaming the school the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, following a $26 million gift from The Z. Y. Fu Foundation. In his last year at Columbia in 2007, graduating SEAS seniors produced a 100% participation rate in the Senior Fund, a statistic never before seen and not since achieved.

For students, he became a model of wise, accessible, and caring leadership. He cheerfully described himself as the “e-mail dean”, known for late-night electronic missives. Uncharacteristically for a Columbia employee, Galil seemed to actually care about students; he helped students find the right advisors, held regular fireside chats, and inspired students to broaden their educations and become involved in the community. Moreover, he had an excellent sense of humor.

Of Galil, students are on record as saying that “We have the best and most interesting dean at Columbia,” and that “No dean … is as well known and respected by the students as Dean Galil,” among other things. [1]

His research contributions place him at the top of his field. In 1983, the Committee of Science Policy of the American Mathematical Society listed his work on optimal statistical designs as one of five "significant recent achievements" in mathematical sciences. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering not simply for his contributions to the design and analysis of algorithms but also for his leadership in computer science and engineering. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences selected him as a Fellow. Zvi have authored more than 200 papers, edited five books, and delivered more than 150 lectures in 20 countries.

In 2009 the Society of Columbia Graduates presented him with the 61st annual Great Teacher Award.

Preceded by
Donald Goldfarb
Dean of SEAS 
1995 - 2007
Succeeded by
Gerald Navratil