Dan Jankowski: a legacy of teaching, research and service
According to Daniel Jankowski, a professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (now the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering) for 40 years until his retirement in 2004, “I was tough on students; demanding. I wanted to make it challenging.”
His students called him Jaws, and some of them likely still jump at the sight of a 3 x 5 note card. He was notorious for his use of such cards, each bearing the name of an individual student. Pausing regularly during his classes, he chose, from the top of his stack of cards, a student to provide some “wisdom” relative to a question he posed. Say something relevant and your card went to the bottom of the stack. An “unreasonable” response caused your card to disappear into a random position in the stack, ensuring you another opportunity, maybe soon.
Jankowski says he wanted to be sure that everyone had “a chance to excel.”
Despite these anxious moments, there is nearly universal agreement that he had a profound effect on his students, their education and their success in future endeavors.
Roger Stout, a mechanical engineering graduate from 1977, said this in a letter to Jankowski recounting his ASU experience: “You taught me the benefits of discipline in my approach to engineering and technology. You demonstrated a deep commitment to the ‘profession’ of engineering, a passion for the material and compassion for those who came to really learn. And certainly not least, you showed us that when approaching even the most serious and challenging subject matter, a little humor can be tolerated.”
In 2001, the College started an endowment to honor Jankowski’s legacy and his activities in research, teaching and service. Awarded only every two years, the Daniel Jankowski Legacy Award is one of the Fulton Schools’ highest faculty honors. A faculty committee selects recipients, who are recognized for sustained, exemplary commitment to student success across research, teaching and service.
Consistent with Jankowski’s own philosophy, the award places a particular emphasis on a strong academic component including student support, quality instruction and program development.
During his tenure at ASU, Jankowski served as associate dean of academic affairs for six years, leaving the position in 2001. He served as interim dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences for one year. Later, he coordinated the university’s 2003 accreditation process.
Jankowski says his goal was “to make the university a better place.”
At the back of a book prepared for Jankowski filled with copies of letters from faculty and university leaders, comments from students (on 3 x 5 note cards) and other memorabilia, there is a poem entitled The Bridge Builder, by Will Allen Dromgoole.
Jankowski says the poem is fitting because “it is about a person who helps others coming after him. That’s what a teacher does.”
Today, Professor Jankowski can still be found on campus working on a textbook for fluid mechanics.