Danny Menascé retires after 30 years at George Mason Univesity

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Danny Menascé came to the Washington, DC region during a sabbatical from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 1991-92 academic year with his wife and two teenagers…and he never left. “We said if the whole family liked it, we’d stay,” he remembers. “I applied because Mason was hiring at all levels. I was not hoping to get any calls, but two days later I got a phone call from the department chair. The rest is history.”

History is something that Menascé was a significant part of here at Mason. “Many years ago, we had a computer science department and also an information and software engineering department. Every faculty in that second department had a PhD in computer science,” he recalled. “We had effectively two computer science depts competing for resources, so I was asked to merge the two, which took about one and a half years.” 

Menascé says that he worked with the respective chairs, Sanjeev Setia and Hassan Gomaa to make sure the merger, which was finalized in 2008, happened seamlessly. He cites this as one of his biggest accomplishments, having been part of creating a nationally ranked program. 

“I was a senior associate dean for seven years, but never wanted to be a professional administrator, and went back to my professorial role.” He says that being in the classroom and working with students are his true passions, particularly PhD students. “Working with them is a joy for me.” He has graduated 33 PhD students and when he retires will have three more working on their dissertation but he intends “to take them to the finish line.”  

He is very impressed with the changes at the college. “The creation of the College of Engineering and Computing was a very good initiative, and we’re growing so fast, with about 30 new faculty members a year. With every growth there are challenges, but Ken (Ball) is doing great work in meeting those challenges.” He says the next focus should be on interdisciplinary work. “When I started we just focused on the computer, but now we’ve got uses for computers across all disciplines. They’re everywhere, even a car has 20 to 25 computers”  

He is looking forward to spending time with his wife, children, and his four grandsons, all in the DC area, aged 10-14. In addition, “I look forward to getting up in the morning without an alarm clock. I want to have more time to read and more time to do things I find pleasing, like going back to playing guitar and piano, which I had stopped for many years. I also like drawing and painting. And my kindle is full of books that are waiting for me!” 

With no plans to leave the region, he’s eager to stay on top of Mason’s progress and offer help if called upon. “Mason has been my academic home for a very, very long time. Thirty years is not something you forget. It’s ingrained in your DNA after some point,” he says.