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Four faculty members elected to emeritus status will be recognized at the 170th Commencement Saturday, Brenda J. Latka, associate professor of mathematics; William E. Melin, professor of music; Michael A. Paolino, Charles A. Dana Professor of Mechanical Engineering; and B. Vincent Viscomi, Simon Cameron Long Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Brenda Latka was a leader in incorporating technology in the classroom. She focuses her research on combinatorial problems arising in model theory, the structure of tournaments, and well-quasi-orderings. Her work has applications to voting, decision-making, and social choice. Latka is the author and co-author of many scientific articles on mathematics, pedagogy, and the retention of women in science.

She joined Lafayette in 1991 as an assistant professor in mathematics. In 1998 Latka received tenure and was promoted to associate professor. She has taught courses in linear algebra, combinatorics, calculus, and statistics, as well as a First-Year Seminar, “Women Detectives.”

After graduating with high honors from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in physics and honors in both physics and mathematics, Latka earned two master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. in mathematical sciences and an M.A. in geography and environmental engineering. In 1991 she received her Ph.D. in mathematics from Rutgers University. Before beginning her doctoral work, she held various management positions in the Bell System (AT&T) for ten years. She did network design and forecasting at one of the “baby Bells,” and led the nationwide technical support organization for voice and data systems. She managed a market-forecasting group that played a crucial role in planning the breakup of the Bell System.

Latka has been on leave of absence for the last two years to serve as associate director of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS) at Rutgers University. She has been actively involved with DIMACS from its founding as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center. DIMACS is a collaborative project of Rutgers, Princeton University, AT&T Labs-Research, Bell Labs, Telcordia Technologies, and NEC Laboratories America.

Bill Melin served as head of the music department for 11 years and director of Lafayette’s Chamber Orchestra for almost 20 years. He also directed chamber ensembles, the College Choir and Glee Club, and Collegium Musicum. He taught courses in electronic music, music history and literature, music theory and composition, American music, music in western civilization, and applied trumpet.

A professional musician, Melin has performed on the trumpet with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and numerous groups in Easton, the Lehigh Valley, and beyond. He has directed and adjudicated more than 80 music festivals in Canada and across America.

Melin earned his bachelor of music degree from Lawrence University Conservatory of Music and his master of music from American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in music history and literature from Ohio State University. He came to Lafayette in 1973 as assistant professor of music. In 1979, he was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor, and in 2000 he was promoted to full professor.

His special interests include music of the Middle Ages, American music, and electro-acoustic music. Melin published an edition of the music of the fifteenth century and articles on technology and music. He co-taught an interim course for twenty years, “The New York Jazz Experience,” which included a week in New York City at jazz clubs, and developed several senior seminar and First-Year Seminar courses. He served on many Lafayette faculty committees, chairing the interim session committee, the financial aid committee, the admissions committee twice, the retirement committee, and the Joint Committee on the Cultural Program. He was very active in community groups, serving as president and chairman of the board of directors of Chansonnette Theatre, president of the local musician’s union, and a member of the Easton Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Arts.

Mike Paolino served as director of the engineering division for 14 years, leading the effort to attract more outstanding students and faculty and continuing a long history of academic excellence. He oversaw three accreditation reviews of Lafayette’s engineering programs by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

A specialist in computational fluid mechanics and heat transfer, Paolino was a faculty member at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for 13 years before coming to Lafayette in 1986 as director of engineering and professor of mechanical engineering. He was named the Dana Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 2000 when he stepped down as director of engineering and returned to full-time teaching. That year he received the Daniel Golden Class of 1934 Faculty Service Award from the Alumni Association. In 2003 he received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from Lafayette.

Paolino earned a B.S. in mathematics from Siena College and began his career as an Army officer through Siena’s ROTC program, serving a tour of duty in Germany during the Berlin Crisis and two combat tours in Vietnam. He also supervised a team of engineers at Redstone Arsenal developing hypervelocity rocket technology. He rose to the rank of colonel and in 1973 was appointed to the West Point faculty, where he directed the thermomechanics group in the mechanics department.

A registered professional engineer in Virginia, Paolino received his M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona. He has published many articles in leading journals in his field, including Journal of Heat Transfer, Journal of Metals, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids, and Journal of Applied Mechanics.

Vince Viscomi served as head of the department of civil engineering for 14 years and subsequently as chair of the A.B. Engineering program. He was active in the effort to integrate the liberal arts and engineering through team-taught interdisciplinary courses, including the Technology Clinic, and developed Professional Aspects of Engineering, a course that evolved into today’s VAST course for engineers.

An outstanding teacher, Viscomi received the Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Lecture Award in 1968, the Student Government Superior Teaching Award in 1974 and 1978, the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for superior teaching and service in 1976; and the Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Award in 1997.

Viscomi joined the faculty in 1964 as assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and was promoted to associate professor in 1969. He was named head of the department of civil engineering in 1972. In 1975, he was promoted to professor of civil engineering and in 1994 he was appointed the Simon Cameron Long Professor. He has served on numerous faculty committees and taught courses in statics, strength of materials, engineering mechanics, machine design, structural analysis, nuclear engineering, and environmental engineering. Viscomi has published extensively in the field of structural engineering and is the co-inventor and patent holder of an innovative structural connection.

He earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Drexel University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Lehigh University, and his Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Colorado. He is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He began his career as an engineer for Westinghouse Electric Corp. and a research engineer and nuclear engineer at Philadelphia Electric Company.

His former students honored him in November 2004 when they established two awards in tribute to the lasting effect Viscomi has had on generations of students for whom he was an exceptional teacher and an inspiring mentor. The B. Vincent Viscomi Engineering Faculty Award will honor an engineering professor for excellence in teaching and mentoring and the B. Vincent Viscomi Civil Engineering Student Prize will recognize a civil engineering major for scholarship and leadership.

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