In the fall of 2023, Catholic University’s School of Engineering gained two new endowed chairs. Both positions were funded through anonymous gifts directed by University Board of Trustees Member Leonard Leo, and made during Light the Way: The Campaign for Catholic University. 

First to be inducted, in September 2023, was Chemical Engineering Professor Santiago Solares, who was named the Saint Albert the Great Chair. Named for Saint Albert, the patron saint of scientists, as the chair holder Professor Solares teaches structural mechanics and dynamics. His research focuses on the nanoscale mechanics and measurement science of both natural and artificial systems. 

“I am pleased to be working in an environment that fosters a dialogue between faith and reason,” he said during the ceremony. “I stand here with a great sense of responsibility, knowing that my work must do justice to gifts that have been entrusted to me.” 

Just two months later, in November, Jeffrey W. Herrmann, Ph.D., who teaches industrial and systems engineering was named Saint Abbo of Fleury Chair. While less well known than St. Albert, Saint Abbo was a scholar of philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy; Professor Herrmann teaches courses in control systems and in engineering decision-making and risk management. He also looks forward to adding a robotics course to his schedule. Professor Herrmann’s research covers metareasoning, which deals with artificial intelligence and how reasoning is controlled and processed, as well as the reasoning behind the nature of reasoning itself.

“I  look forward to working with other faculty members at Catholic University in giving students the opportunity and skills to become good engineers and, more specifically, for some, to learn how to design, develop, test and deploy robotic systems that have a wide variety of successful applications” Herrmann said.

These two endowed positions, which Dean John Judge pointed out were the first endowed chairs in the School of Engineering’s history, will help attract new students to the school, thus helping the school’s enrollment grow over the next five years. 

“The establishment of an endowed chair is a testament to the importance of engineering education and research to the University’s mission, and to the critical contributions the school will make, not just to the University’s future, but to the future of our society as it is shaped by technological advances and the application of scientific principles.” Judge said during Professor Herrmann’s installation. “It signifies a commitment, by the donor, by the administration of President Kilpatrick, and by all of my colleagues in the school, to advancing a profession focused on problem-solving, innovation, and creativity, and to ensuring that Catholic University is helping shape the future of that profession and training its future leaders.”


The two new Endowed Chairs
Left: Dr. Jeffrey Herrmann, St. Abbo of Fleury Endowed Chair. Right: Dr. Santiago Solares, St. Albert the Great Endowed Chair.


Published on: Monday, January 29, 2024