News Release

Albert P. Pisano Awarded Top UC Berkeley Honor

San Diego, CA, September 09, 2013 -- Albert P. Pisano, dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, was awarded the Berkeley Citation on August 29, 2013. This prestigious honor is given to individuals and organizations “whose attainments significantly exceed the standards of excellence in their fields and whose contributions to UC Berkeley are manifestly above and beyond the call of duty.”

UC Berkeley officials announced the award, which was a surprise, at Pisano’s farewell celebration on Aug. 29, three days before he officially joined UC San Diego as dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering.

The celebration included remarks from Prof. Robert J. Birgeneau, who completed his term as UC Berkeley Chancellor in May; S. Shankar Sastry, dean of the College of Engineering at Berkeley; David Dornfeld, chair of Berkeley’s mechanical engineering department; and Debbie G. Senesky, a former graduate student (Ph.D. ’07) in the Pisano laboratory. Senesky is currently an assistant professor at Stanford University in the department of aeronautics and astronautics.

Senesky incorporated input from other alumni of the Pisano laboratory into her remarks, which offer insights into some of what has made Pisano so successful over the years. Below are excerpts from her remarks, each followed by a comment from Pisano relating these past experiences to his future at the Jacobs School.

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Albert P. Pisano (center) with current and former students and researchers in his UC Berkeley laboratory.


Debbie G. Senesky
“When you leave a meeting with Prof. Pisano, you are energized, excited to try out the new ideas that were discussed and filled with a sense that you will make it to the finish line.

Albert P. Pisano
“Energized, excited to try out the new ideas.” These words convey something very important to me. In order to get past the inevitable challenges and roadblocks, whether it’s in research, administration, a startup or a government agency, you need to be energized and excited by the task at hand. I’m thrilled to be at the Jacobs School because I see so much potential here. We really do have the opportunity to take this place to the next level in terms of research, education and positive impact on society.


Debbie G. Senesky
“Prof. Pisano has been known to clear his busy calendar to work with students individually to prepare for preliminary and qualification examinations. He will always find the time to support you when it is needed.

Albert P. Pisano
No matter how many things I am involved in, students are always a top priority. And more generally, as a leader, you have to be there for your team and support them at the critical moments. Yes, there will always be more things to do than hours in the day. But a key to effective leadership is keeping the big picture goals in mind, and communicating those goals to your team. This enables the entire team to focus resources and energy on the highest priority projects, initiatives and challenges.


Debbie G. Senesky
“When you go into the real world, your relationship with Al does not end. He continues to mentor you, will offer an open ear and, surprisingly, makes you feel like a colleague. In addtion, you instantly have a network of alumni that are leaders in your field. Many of us have become CEOs of start-up companies, technical leaders in industry and professors at top-tier universities around the globe.

Albert P. Pisano
Debbie’s kind words sum up what, in my opinion, the alumni of top engineering schools should feel toward their fellow alumni and toward their alma mater: pride, connection and support. There are opportunities to make this happen at all levels, from individual labs to departments, centers and schools.


Debbie G. Senesky
Prof. Pisano allows his group to actively participate in proposal writing and high-level meetings with industry and government agencies. Because of this, you feel like you are part of an important team, are developing professionally and have a better understanding of the technical challenges in your field.

Albert P. Pisano
I think it’s important for graduate students to fully experience how the academic research enterprise works. It’s not enough for students to do their experiments and work on posters and papers. Students need to learn how to write grants, update funding agencies and interface with industry sponsors. This is just one example of how engineering schools can prepare their students to become engineering leaders.


Debbie G. Senesky
One alumni of the research group compared meetings with Prof. Pisano to an MG — fast, efficient, and adventurous!”

Albert P. Pisano
“Fast, efficient, and adventurous!” This is an apt description of how the best engineering schools in the nation operate. That’s how we’ll be functioning here at the Jacobs School — fast, efficient, and adventurous — but not just from a top-down perspective. It’s important that everyone at the Jacobs School feels empowered to offer suggestions for how we can reach even higher levels of accomplishment. Honest and constructive two-way communication is important to me. I can be reached at:



About the Berkeley Citation

In 1967–68, when the University of California celebrated its 100th birthday, an honor entitled “The Centennial Citation” was created on the Berkeley campus. Its object was to allow Berkeley to honor members or friends — whether individuals or organizations — that had rendered distinguished or extraordinary service to the University. At the end of the Centennial Year, the campus’s leadership decided to continue the award as the Berkeley Citation. Learn more about the Berkeley Citation

Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering