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Memorial service planned for Professor Emeritus Norman Balabanian

October 04, 2010

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

Norman Balabanian, professor emeritus in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS), will be remembered in a memorial service on Friday, Oct. 8, at 4 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel. A reception will follow in the Noble Room.

Balabanian, who died on Dec. 14, 2009, was a professor in LCS’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for many years, and served as department chair for seven years. He retired in 1991.

He was a world-recognized scholar, author of many scientific and social-scientific papers and professionally related books, some of which have been translated into dozens of languages and used as texts in universities throughout the world. Balabanian was particularly concerned with the relationship between technology and society. He served as a visiting professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California-Berkeley, and a visiting scholar at Tufts University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was also a senior Fulbright fellow in Yugoslavia.

Balabanian received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from SU, was a life fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), received the IEEE Centennial Medal in 1984, and the Third Millennium Medal in 2000. He was an officer of the electrical engineering division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), including two years as president, and was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In addition to his scientific work, Balabanian was engaged in society and frequently wrote letters to newspapers and participated in activism on the Civil Rights front and on other issues of fairness and justice, including opposition to the Vietnam War in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In 1966, he ran for U.S. Congress on a platform of ending the war, as well as addressing other social justice issues. Gaining only a small percentage of the vote, his campaign nevertheless galvanized the growing opposition to the war.

Balabanian was one of the founders of the Central New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In addition to his leadership in that organization, he also gained recognition from his preparation of their annual dinners.

After retirement from the faculty of SU, Balabanian and his wife, Rosemary, moved to Gainesville, Fla. He was a guest of the University of Florida, and continued his professional activities and political writings. He was active in the local Veterans for Peace organization. In his last years, he published an autobiography, highlighting the broad expanse of his professional achievements as well as his extensive social and political life.

“Over the years, Dr. Balabanian was both my teacher and my colleague,” says LCS Professor Emeritus John Brule. “He was a remarkable leader both in his chosen profession and in his attention to social needs. I was proud to associate myself with him as he both led and pushed me academically and in addressing the needs of society. I think I am a better person because of my good fortune to have known him.”

Balabanian and Arnold Honig, professor of physics in The College of Arts and Sciences, were both members of a lively informal group, Syracuse Area Faculty Group on Issues of War and Peace, and became very involved in dissension from the Vietnam War.

“Norm Balabanian was a very special colleague and friend at SU, beginning in the late ‘50s when I first arrived here. He had an extraordinary compassion for social injustices and the energy and willingness to act on them,” says Honig. “He embodied the politically engaged reasoning spirit so essential for a well-functioning democracy, and was a warm and dependable friend.

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