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College mourns passing of CEE professor emeritus Ghazzaly

By: 

Stephen Greenwell

Osman Ghazzaly, Ph.D., an emeritus professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering, passed away the afternoon of April 8, 2021, according to friends.

Ghazzaly retired from the university in December 2011, with a ceremony held at the time to honor his 45 years of service to the university.

Ghazzaly joined the University of Houston as an assistant professor of Civil Engineering in 1966. He was promoted to an associate professor in 1969, and to professor in 1997. A professor of Geotechnical Engineering, he also held administrative positions of Associate Chairman and Director of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies, and served as a graduate and undergraduate advisor.

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Cairo in 1958, Ghazzaly earned his Masters' in Civil and Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1963. He received his doctorate in 1965.

At the time of his retirement, Ghazzaly was presented with a plaque honoring his 45 years of service, as well as a slide rule and a scientific calculator to represent changes from the time he began teaching at UH in 1966 through 2011.

Abdeldjelil "DJ" Belarbi, Ph.D., Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was at the ceremony and a colleague of Ghazzaly for many years.

“When I took over the Chairmanship of the CEE Department, Osman was a mentor to me and he helped me throughout the process, and alerted me when I was off track,” Belarbi said. “Dr. Ghazzaly was a true gentleman, a very good person and a good friend to many of us, and he will be dearly missed.”

Belbari noted that Ghazzaly was a member of the department in its early days, and helped to facilitate its growth.

“Many of our alumni went through his geotechnical courses and received his advising, and they were inspired by his commitment and dedication to their education and professional growth,” he said. “He is known to be the face of this department when reaching out to our alumni.  Dr. Ghazzaly was instrumental in developing the graduate program in CEE to how we know it today.  Dr. Ghazzaly was a mentor to so many young faculty and helped them throughout their career.”

Hanadi Rifai, Ph.D., John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Civil Engineering and a colleague of Ghazzaly, echoed Belbari's remarks.

“Osman was a wonderful colleague and mentor for me at UH,” she said. “His kindness and support through the years will never be forgotten. I could always count on Osman to listen and offer advice. He will be sorely missed.”

Another colleague, Bill Rixey, Ph.D., an Associate Professor and Associate Chairman of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said he would miss Ghazzaly.

“Osman was a beloved member of the department,” Rixey said. “He had a long and distinguished career at UH. He was always supportive of faculty and the efforts of our department, dedicated to our students, respected as a scholar and inspiring in the classroom.  He will be remembered fondly as one of the pillars of our department.”   

Ghazzaly's obituary from The Houston Chronicle is viewable here. He is survived by his wife Karima Ghanem Ghazzaly, daughter Angie Gibson (husband Jeffrey), sister Layla Ghazzaly (Samir El-Ashram), step-daughters Farida Meguid Morsi and Sherifa Meguid Kehs (Stephen), grandchildren Mia Gibson, Sara Morsi, Hala Morsi, Omar Morsi, Tyler Kehs, Alya Morsi, Chloe Kehs, Zaid Morsi and Zayn Morsi. He was buried at a private service on April 9. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Dr. Osman Ghazzaly Endowed Faculty Achievement Award in Civil and Environmental Engineering.  

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