Martin Hawley retires after 57 years

July 18, 2022

Longest serving faculty member says good-bye to MSU 

Martin Hawley has been a student, teacher, administrator, and leader at Michigan State University for 65 years, and he’s about to add a new title to the list – retiree.

Martin Hawley
Martin Hawley

Hawley, who is a professor of chemical engineering and materials science and director of the MSU Composite Vehicle Research Center, is retiring this summer. It’s a big change for him since arriving on campus as a 16-year-old freshman in September 1956.

“I was a young kid coming to college that fall of 1956. My roommate was a 26-year-old Air Force veteran. We got along great and were living in the new Bryan Hall in Brody complex. It feels like yesterday.”

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., called attention to Hawley’s retirement in a recent all-campus update.

“I’m thrilled to congratulate a highly accomplished faculty member in our College of Engineering who retires after 57 years and eight months as MSU’s longest-serving faculty member,” Stanley said. “Professor Martin Hawley was appointed as an assistant professor of chemical engineering in 1964 and was a Spartan even before that, earning his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from MSU.
“Dr. Hawley has served in numerous key capacities over his tenure, and the college estimates Professor Hawley has educated at least 80 percent of MSU chemical engineering graduates. Thank you, Professor Hawley!”

Engineering Dean Leo Kempel added his thanks to that of President Stanley’s, saying he cannot overstate the impact that Hawley has had on the college during his career.

“He is the faculty member who is most associated with the excellence demonstrated in the chemical engineering program,” Kempel said. “In addition to his long service as a faculty member, he was part of the leadership team in the college for most of my career,” Kempel continued. “He is also a close personal friend and mentor. I know that his impact on the college will last for many years to come.”

Among Hawley’s academic titles and Spartan honors, he served as chairperson of the MSU Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (ChEMS) for more than 15 years. In 2021, a distinguished 1946 alumnus established the Martin C. Hawley Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering at MSU as a legacy tribute.

“I’ve been at MSU almost 58 years,” Hawley said. “There’s been a lot of interactions with outstanding faculty, staff, and students. I have fond memories, great memories of them.”

Martin Hawley and Dean Leo Kempel at the 2022 Alumni Banquet.
Martin Hawley and Dean Leo Kempel at the 2022 Alumni Banquet.

Hawley said working with eager young people is a fantastic experience.

“As you see the students go from learners in the classroom to active professionals, you realize we have a lot of accomplished people around here. The alumni that I come in contact with amaze me, which reflects well on the experiences and education they had at MSU.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things, actually,” Hawley continued. “Our alumni are successful because of their backgrounds, education, personal traits, and even a little luck. I have a good feeling for what we do – and in more than one way, I hate to see it end.”

Hawley is a well-established industry and government consultant in the areas of computer simulation, chemical reactor design, process design, and materials processing. His teaching career is highlighted by the perennial success of MSU students in the annual AIChE national design contest. Under his mentorship during the 45+ years he taught the capstone design class, dozens of MSU chemical engineering seniors received national awards and recognitions in the annual competition.

Additionally, he has developed text materials and taught courses to students in international education programs on project engineering and management. He holds six patents and has published over 200 articles and books. He has been honored by the Chemical Engineering Professional Society as “Chemical Engineer of the Year” for his overall contributions to the profession. He has been honored by MSU with a W. J. Beal Distinguished Faculty Award for excellence in teaching and research and received the Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor presented to a graduate by the MSU College of Engineering.

A two-time MSU graduate, Hawley received a bachelor’s degree in 1961 and a Ph.D. in 1964, both in chemical engineering. 

He intends to stay active in his retirement – both in university support and industrial consulting activities. With his wife Diana D’Angelo, (also a two-time graduate of MSU with a B.S. in computer science and an MBA, along with 43 years at MSU in information technology), he plans to spend time between East Lansing and the Traverse City area.

Both will always maintain their connection to and fondness for MSU, he added.