Columbia Engineering Mourns the Passing of Fletcher H. Griffis, Civil Engineering Professor

Mar 23 2021 | By Holly Evarts

Fletcher H. (Bud) Griffis, professor emeritus of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, passed away March 20 from complications from COVID-19. Griffis taught at Columbia Engineering from 1984 to 1999, when he retired. He also served as the head of the Construction Engineering Program and director of the Center for Infrastructure Studies.

"We grieve the loss of Bud, our most affable colleague, whose arrival in the department in 1984 transformed a nascent Construction Engineering option into a most vibrant and popular concentration,” said Rene Testa MS’60 and EngScD’63, who retired in 2013 as professor emeritus of civil engineering.

After his retirement from Columbia, Griffis joined the faculty of the civil and urban engineering department at NYU Tandon School of Engineering in 2000 as a tenured professor of construction and director of the Center for Construction Management Innovation. He retired as Emeritus Professor in December 2020. During his tenure at Tandon, he served as Provost, Dean of Engineering and Applied Science, Vice President for Academic Affairs, department head, and professor.

Griffis received his BS in 1960 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and two MS degrees (in construction engineering and in operations research, 1965) and his PhD in civil engineering (construction, 1971) from Oklahoma State University. He was also a graduate of the U.S. Army War College.

He retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1986 after serving as commander and district engineer of the New York District. His military career culminated with his service as a Colonel with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as Commander and District Engineer of the New York District. In that position, he was responsible for all Army and Air Force construction from southern New Jersey to Maine and including Greenland and Labrador. He was also responsible for water resource development and regulation in the Northeast and was supervisor of New York Harbor.

Griffis was a fellow and a member of the National Board of Directors of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He also served as director and past president of the ASCE Metropolitan Section, past chairman of the Committee on Professional Publications, and past chairman of the Construction Division of ASCE. He was a member of the National Committee for Infrastructure Research and Policy; past president and a director of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), New York Post; a National SAME Director; a member of the New York Building Congress and the National Academy of Construction. He was also a trustee of the Foundation Board of SAME and the ACE Mentor Program.

Griffis published numerous technical papers and reports. He was also the author of two textbooks: New York City Infrastructure: A Policymakers’ Guide, published by NICEST (1996) and Construction Planning For Engineers, published by McGraw-Hill (2000).