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George embraced change and was a leader who went about making change possible. His range of interests and expertise transcended many disciplines, including civil engineering, biomedical engineering, urban development, science policy, water resources, and environmental science. He recognized that engineering was not an isolated endeavor but an integral part of the natural world and society. This concept was embraced in the word biosoma, coined by George, from the contraction of biology, society, and machines and eloquently expressed in the seal of the Polytechnic Institute, which George was instrumental in designing: Homo et hominis opera partes naturae (Man and the works of man belong to the natural world).

When Bugliarello became president of Polytechnic Institute of New York, the institution had limited resources, had a declining enrollment, and was located in a deteriorating neighborhood in downtown Brooklyn. George approached the challenges of his presidency in the best engineering tradition: analyze, plan, execute.

He outlined the pillars of his plan on a paper towel on New Year’s Eve 1973 in Paddy’s Clam House, on 34th Street near Penn Station in Manhattan, where George and four close advisers met to lay out the institute’s future. What emerged were three priorities that formed a stable platform and would define much of George’s presidency:

  • First, the institute would increase enrollment through growth on satellite campuses. This was necessary to preserve faculty positions and jobs for staff, something always foremost in George’s mind.
  • Second, it would begin something it had historically been reluctant to do—undertake organized fund-raising.
  • Finally, it would create a new campus for the flagship academic programs in Brooklyn.

Under George’s leadership, undergraduate programs were introduced on Long Island in 1974. Within two years Polytechnic began its first organized fund-raising efforts.

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