College of Engineering faculty and staff gathered Thursday to pay tribute to retired Civil Engineering professor Ali Eshett, who has donated $500,000 to support CSULB business and engineering scholarships and faculty development.
Eshett taught in the Civil Engineering department from 1966 to 1998. His wife, Channa, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in public administration from CSULB, while his daughter Sharon earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s in business administration from CSULB.
“Ali is one of those who built this college to where it is now and he has been a great supporter of our student success,” said College of Engineering Dean Forouzan Golshani.
Known for his sense of humor and strong opinions, Eshett has traveled to 150 countries. He was born in the Galicia region of Poland and lived in Israel, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, before moving to the United States for graduate studies in Colorado.
Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management Chair Tesfai Goitom said Eshett was one of the first people he met when he arrived at CSULB. Goitom said he’d planned on spending one or two years at CSULB, but ended up staying for decades at Eshett’s urging.
Goitom said Eshett wears four hats: professor, politician, traveler, and businessman. “I learned early on that if I wanted to survive in the department, I had to agree with Ali,” said Goitom.
Several of Eshett’s former colleagues turned out at the event. They included Sandra Cynar, former Interim Dean; Ray Stefani, emeritus Electrical Engineering and Construction Engineering Management professor; and Hezih Gunal, emeritus Construction Engineering Management professor.
In addition to being one of Eshett’s colleagues, Gunal was also one of his students in the 1960s. “I was a young student and he was a young professor,” Gunal said.
With his gift, Eshett is recognized as a member of the university’s Legacy Society. “We really appreciate what you have done,” said Susan Berkman, assistant vice president of CSULB University Relations & Development.
“I did well in the United States. It’s the land of opportunity, but you have to take it with both hands,” Eshett said.