Jan 212009
Authors: Shelley Woll

CSU centennial professor emeritus of civil engineering Maurice L. Albertson touched the lives of many all over the world, and many might not recognize his name.

The long-time professor, engineer, co-founder of the Peace Corps and student favorite passed away Jan. 11 due to an illness contracted from a recent trip to Indonesia, ironically as the CSU campus was left empty because of break.

“CSU students loved him, and I was one of those students at one time,” said long time friend, colleague and former student Neil Grigg.

Grigg recalled the vast variety of students whom Albertson taught at CSU from 1947 to 2001, including World War II veterans and students from other countries.

“. I personally witnessed how students from other countries just loved working with him,” said Grigg. “I think he was an inspiration to those students.”

In his 54 years at the university, Albertson helped develop the department in which he taught engineering; helped to establish the university’s research, graduate and international programs; and helped develop CSU’s International Institute for Sustainable Development.

“He was one of those individuals who really helped establish the college of engineering as a strong research college,” said Dean of Engineering Sandra Woods.

Albertson worked throughout his life to help the less fortunate, including founding the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok and serving as a consultant to World Bank and the United Nations Development Program, among other prominent international organizations.

But perhaps Albertson’s biggest contribution was co-founding, along with two CSU colleagues, the Peace Corps for President Kennedy in 1961.

“The thing that really got his heart was global poverty, and he had been to other countries and he had witnessed this grinding poverty and hunger and disease and discrimination and all these different things which caused or resulted from poverty,” Grigg said.

His work with the Peace Corps paved the way for more than 190,000 volunteers serving in 139 developing countries, including more than 1,400 CSU students.

In 2008 CSU had 57 students volunteer, ranking CSU as 12th among universities across the nation.

Senior recreation and tourism major Steven Easterby hopes to join them when he graduates in May.

“I wanted to apply to the Peace Corps because I wanted to get real experience in international development and make a real difference in some village or peoples’ lives,” Easterby said. “I feel proud that the Peace Corps was started here, and I hope that helps my chance of getting in.”

Staff writer Shelley Woll can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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