Retired general named inaugural director of UF’s Engineering Leadership Institute

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has been named the inaugural director of the Engineering Leadership Institute at the University of Florida.

Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck has accepted the position at the institute, which provides opportunities for leadership education within the College of Engineering. Hagenbeck brings with him a lifetime of leadership experience.

Prior to his retirement from the Army, Hagenbeck served as the 57th superintendent at West Point. He began his education there as well, studying engineering as a cadet from 1967 to 1971. In the interim, he served the country in various capacities, including the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, and commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division, whose troops he led to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the months immediately following 9/11. He is a highly decorated officer whose personal stories from the field have been included in several books published on the topic of leadership.

“I‘ve been all around the world, and I do believe that the best and the brightest of our country are here among Gator engineering students,” said Hagenbeck. “Increasingly, officials, employers and customers need engineers who can go beyond their technical training, who can excel at team building and problem solving, engineers who are ethical and will transform the world for the better. That is why we have the Engineering Leadership Institute, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

The ELI focuses on creating leaders for a new world where technology plays a major role. It was formed in 2009, and until now has been under the direction of interim director Erik Sander, who also runs the Engineering Innovation Institute. Sander, along with the ELI’s advisory board and the dean of the College of Engineering, searched extensively to find a director who would embody the mission of the ELI.

“Gen. Hagenbeck comes to us with a wide breadth of knowledge and hands-on experience; he knows how to lead under very challenging circumstances, as well as in times of peace. His long list of achievements in combat and his military mentoring speak of hard work, dedication, and extraordinary courage. He has the technical and mental preparedness to take on any task, any responsibility, at any given time,” said Dean Cammy Abernathy of the College of Engineering. “These are the qualities of an exceptional leader. I am confident that the Engineering Leadership Institute will thrive under Gen. Hagenbeck’s direction.”

The college created the ELI as part of its mission to transform engineering education with leadership, innovation and interdisciplinary research.