Dr. Eleanor Baum, Dean Emeritus of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), for her pioneering leadership as the first female engineering dean. The ceremony took place at HUC-JIR’s Graduation on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at Temple Emanu-El of the City of New York, 10 East 66th Street, New York.
Dr. Baum was Dean of Engineering at Cooper Union from 1987 to 2010. Before that, she was Dean of Engineering at Pratt Institute, an appointment that made her the first woman to head an engineering school in the US. During her years at The Cooper Union, the female enrollment rose from 3% to 30%. Dr. Baum is a fearless advocate of issues that relate to women and minority students in engineering.
Born in Poland which she escaped with her parents during World War II, she grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her decision to become an engineer as a teenager was fraught with challenges, and she was not accepted to several engineering schools because she was a woman. She received her bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering from City College (1959), where she was the only female engineering student, and her Master’s (1961) and Ph.D. in Engineering (1964) from Polytechnic Institute of New York.
She is a former President of American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and a former Chairperson of the New York Academy of Sciences. Dr. Baum was also Chair of the Washington Accord, an international organization that deals with mutual recognition of engineering credentials. She worked in the Long Island aerospace industry, was on the advisory committee for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and various universities and companies. She was the recipient of six honorary doctorates and many other awards for her leadership in engineering education and for her efforts to increase the participation of women and minorities in the engineering profession. She was inducted into the national Women’s Hall of Fame. Dr. Baum has been a director of three Fortune 500 corporations. She was a trustee of Embry Riddle Aeronautic University and of Webb Institute. She is a fellow of many engineering societies.
Dr. Baum is married to Dr. Paul Baum, a retired Professor of Physics at Queens College. They have two daughters and two granddaughters.