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In Memory of Dr. McAssey

Dr. Edward V McAssey
Dr. Edward V McAssey

The Villanova University community mourns the loss of the former Mechanical Engineering chair and faculty member, Edward V. McAssey, Jr., PhD, who passed away on October 16, 2021. He was 86.

Dr. McAssey earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now the Tandon School of Engineering at NYU). In 1968, he joined the faculty of Villanova and received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. A renowned expert in nuclear energy and reactors, Dr. McAssey made a lasting impact upon the entire Villanova community during his forty-year tenure. He not only distinguished himself as an educator and mentor—earning the Lindback Award for excellence in teaching and the College’s Farrell Award for “exemplary personal concern for students”—but as a scholar and leader. In 1992, he was named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for his contributions to the fields of heat transfer and two-phase flow and appointed as the inaugural James R. Birle Chair of Energy Technology in 1995. An able and well-loved administrator, Dr. McAssey served as chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department from 1983-1988, interim Dean of the College and finally as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2001-2003.

Though he formally retired in 2003, Dr. McAssey maintained a regular presence on campus, as evidenced by his promotion to Professor Emeritus, while contributing to a variety of design and research projects. Dr. McAssey’s impact upon the Villanova community surpassed his capabilities in both the lab and classroom. He will forever be remembered for his impact upon people, the countless students and colleagues he mentored and nurtured during his time at Villanova.

Dr. Gerard “Jerry” Jones, who recently stepped down as Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research after serving the College for 40 years, speaks fondly of his longtime friendship with Dr. McAssey, which began when Dr. Jones was an undergraduate student enrolled in one of Dr. McAssey’s classes in the 1970s. The two stayed in touch throughout the years and Dr. Jones ultimately followed a similar academic trajectory, earning his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and specializing in the discipline of heat transfer. Dr. Jones says laughingly, ‘Ed McAssey and I were the only two heat transfer people in the department, but Ed was actually a boiling heat transfer guy, so he was what we called a ‘bubble guy.’” The two regularly spent time together as members of ASME, noting that Dr. McAssey’s elevation to ASME Fellow in the early 1990s was “one of the biggest highlights of his professional career. He was really proud of his involvement and had many colleagues there.”

Dr. McAssey is remembered for his warmth and compassion, and as someone who embodied the spirit of Veritas, Unitas, Caritas. Associate Professor Dr. Sergey Nersesov, Director of the Advanced Control Theory and Applications Lab at the College, says, “His upbeat character and incredible sense of humor will be remembered, as well as his resounding greeting of “There he is!” over the hallways of Tolentine Hall.”

Dr. Moeness Amin, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, recalls being hired by Dr. McAssey as Director of the Center for Advanced Communication, and how his friend really laid the groundwork for its future success. Dr. Amin recently received a phone call from Dr. McAssey congratulating him on a recent professional accomplishment. “Despite his deteriorating health, he shared his happiness of the news and his congratulations—traits of a man with a big heart, sincerity, and good character. I will miss Ed dearly.” This sentiment is shared by Dr. Portonovo Ayyaswamy, Professor Emeritus, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at University of Pennsylvania, who said, “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Ed. He was a brilliant engineering scientist, and a very kind and compassionate person. Very unassuming.”

Dr. McAssey’s kindness and collegial spirit was palpable and reverberated beyond the walls of the College. Dr. Ruth McDermott-Levy, Professor in Villanova’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, says, “What stood out to me was his ability to engage, encourage, and gently mentor college students and junior faculty. As a young professional in my twenties, I had dinner at the McAssey home along with a handful of others. Dr. McAssey sat with us listening to and laughing about our youthful antics. He didn’t judge us for enjoying ourselves, but gently asked questions about our thoughts on our jobs and goals. I remember thinking, Wow. He is an amazing teacher.”

Following his retirement, Dr. McAssey displayed the same generosity of spirit he became known for at Villanova, dedicating his time and energy to various service work in the community, including Mission Santa Maria in Kennett Square and the St. Agnes Day Room in West Chester. Above all, he loved spending quality time with his family, including his wife Anne, children Edward III, Mary, James, and Katherine, and his fourteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Although he will be dearly missed, his memory will live on in the minds and hearts of those who knew and loved him.

A Memorial Service for Dr. McAssey will be held on Villanova’s campus in early spring 2022. The College is working with the family to finalize details for this service, which will be shared with all members of the community.

The obituary for Dr. McAssey appeared in the November 23rd edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.