Albert Dorman, who began a remarkable career as a civil engineer—selected to oversee the building of Disneyland at the age of 28, and then going on to head one of the largest infrastructure consulting firms in the world, AECOM—has died. He was 97.
For nearly thirty years, he lent his business and leadership skills to Gladstone Institutes, serving as a trustee from 1987 to 2016. During this period, he helped the institutes grow from approximately 100 employees to more than 500, and fostered the academic excellence that established Gladstone’s reputation as a world-renowned biomedical research organization. His engineering expertise proved especially valuable when the organization moved out of its cramped quarters at the San Francisco General Hospital and into a new, state-of-the-art facility in the city’s Mission Bay neighborhood in 2004.
Greatly respected for his business acumen, Dorman was equally valued for his sincerity and down-to-earth attitude.
“Dr. Dorman shared so much of his wisdom over the years,” says Gladstone President Deepak Srivastava, MD. “He was a visionary leader with exceptional business skills, a man who achieved enormous success in his career, and yet he remained one of the most modest and authentic people I have ever known. Each time we spoke, I felt that he truly cared about me and my family. I will miss his friendship.”
In Gladstone’s early days, Dorman worked closely with Robert Mahley, MD, PhD, senior investigator and the institute’s founding president. Together, they worked to assemble top scientific talent, grow the endowment, and foster the family culture that characterizes Gladstone Institutes.
“Dr. Dorman was a great teacher,” says Mahley. “In every conversation with him, I learned something new. He made me a better president.”
Dorman earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), where he was first in his class. After serving in the US Army Corps of Engineers, he earned his master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). He established his own civil engineering firm in central California, then went on to lead the design and construction of Disneyland, for which he was the civil engineer of record. After his firm was acquired, Dorman became chair and CEO of DMJM, one of the 10 largest architecture-engineering firms in the US, then chair and CEO of Ashland Technology Corporation after it bought out DMJM. When the opportunity arose to purchase Ashland, Dorman became the founding chair and CEO of AECOM Technology Corporation, now a multinational infrastructure consulting firm.
Dorman was an elected member of the National Institute of Engineering, published or delivered more than 20 scientific papers, and served on many advisory boards, including the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC. He endowed the Albert Dorman Honors College at NJIT, which identifies top students—many from underserved communities—and equips them to become leaders in their fields. The institute awarded him an honorary doctoral degree in 1999.
At Gladstone, Dorman’s legacy is remembered through the annual awarding of the Dorman Outstanding Graduate Student Prize and the Dorman Outstanding Postdoctoral Paper Prize.
In a 2018 interview, Dorman spoke to the core of his philosophy: “I’m interested in projects and in making the world a better place…When I’ve made a difference, when I’ve helped shape ways of thinking, that’s satisfying.”
He helped shape Gladstone and its people in numerous ways. He will be missed.
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