Industrial Engineering Professor Leaves Legacy

May 1, 2013

By GRETCHEN WOLKING | May 3, 2013 |

Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and Technology Professor Joseph Emanuel said he “definitely did not want to do” two things: live in the Midwest or teach.

Now, 46 years and half of Bradley’s presidents later, Emanuel is leaving the university as a coveted and distinguished professor in order to spend more time with his grandchildren.

Emanuel came to Peoria in 1967 from a human factors and ergonomics lab at Ohio State University where he was working in a psychology graduate program. He was recruited by then-chair of the industrial engineering department, Frank Mergen.

Emanuel said he learned that there was more to life than “just making a lot of money.”

“Bradley was a difficult institution to walk away from,” he said. “It was [an] extremely student-oriented institution, and it did allow me and a lot of other faculty to get close to a lot of students and impact [their] lives.”

Of all the changes Emanuel saw at Bradley, he said teaching technology saw the biggest development during his time at Bradley.

“The first year I was here I had a black board,” he said. “I think the department may have just purchased a desktop calculator. And this would’ve been one of the old mechanical ones that basically allowed you to add, subtract, multiply and divide. There wasn’t much else you could do with one.”

Two of Emanuel’s favorite memories at Bradley were being part of the provost search committee during the 1997-1998 school year and the basketball coach search committee in 1991.

While working with these committees, Emanuel said they were able to “break the standard way of doing things,” by asking one coach to come interview for the position and by holding interviews for the provost positions over televised communications.

“We did it better, we did it faster and we did it cheaper,” he said.

However, Emanuel said he’s most proud of his students’ accomplishments, no matter their career field.

He said that he knows of industrial engineers that went on to be orthopedic physicians, lawyers, high school math teachers, ministers and even his dentist.

After sending out an invitation to all of his former students for a family retirement reception during the summer, Emanuel said that many of them attended.

“I got an email back from one of them [a minister in Atlanta], and she said, ‘I still use my industrial engineering every day,’” he said “When you hear things like that, you realize that the things that you’ve been telling your students for years are really true.”

In the end, Emanuel said the best advice he can give to students is to be well-rounded, involved and charitable.

“I think it’s really important for [students] to realize that giving back is important,” he said. “Don’t just sit at home… [It makes a difference] when you get out and start realizing there’s another world out there.”