News & Features

In Memoriam: Joseph F. Malina Jr.

headshot of Joseph Malina

June 15, 2016

Former department chair and beloved professor Joseph F. Malina Jr. passed away on June 14, 2016, in Austin. After more than half a century with The University of Texas at Austin, he leaves a lasting legacy as a respected teacher, mentor, industry leader and professional engineer.

Joe grew up in Brooklyn, New York, as the second of nine children. He earned a bachelor of science in civil engineering from Manhattan College in 1957.  After graduation, he went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and obtained his M.S. degree in 1959 and Ph.D. in 1961.

Joe joined the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering as an assistant professor in 1961 and was the C.W. Cook Professor in Environmental Engineering until his retirement in 2012. He served as chair from 1976 to 1988, helping to enhance the national reputation of the department and its academic programs. During this time, annual research expenditures increased from approximately $2 million to over $5 million and graduate student enrollment increased from 250 students to 360 students.

His research focused on biological treatment of municipal and industrial wastewaters; handling, treatment and disposal of municipal sludges; industrial residuals and hazardous wastes; solid waste engineering; computer-aided-engineering of waste treatment systems; and the environmental impact of highway construction and highway runoff.

He served as a consultant to more than 70 companies, as well as to local, municipal, state and federal governments and agencies and international organizations. Environmental engineers regularly refer to his research, and the short courses he organized on advanced water pollution controls have shaped treatment plant design and operations across the world. He was also a founding member of the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) Environmental and Water Resources Institute.

His professional contributions have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Water Environment Association of Texas, the ASCE Arthur M. Wellington Prize, the Edward J. Cleary Award and the Gordon Maskew Fair Award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and the Engineer of the Year Award from the Travis Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. 

Throughout decades of dedicated service, Joe’s accessibility to students never wavered, and he helped thousands of students understand the real-world importance and applications of civil and environmental engineering. He supervised 192 graduate students, including 26 Ph.D. students, and he taught multiple generations of students from the same families.

 “Joe devoted over 50 years of his life to CAEE and the Cockrell School of Engineering,” said CAEE department Chair Richard Corsi. “He was a husband, father, grandfather, friend and scholar, and we will miss him greatly. Our community and the environmental engineering profession is better because of Joe - he cared deeply for his students and colleagues. Joe was a man of integrity who loved his family and career.”