NOVEMBER 13, 2012 — R. Keith Michel, Chairman of the Board of the Herbert Engineering Group of Companies, has been appointed President of Webb Institute, effective July 1, 2013. The appointment was made following the recently announced retirement of RADM Robert C. Olsen, Jr. USCG (Ret.), who will have filled this role for eight years.
Webb Institute is a top-ranked undergraduate engineering institution, offering one academic option, a double major in naval architecture and marine engineering. The school was founded in 1889 by William H. Webb, a preeminent shipbuilder, entrepreneur, and philanthropist of the 19th century. It is located in Glen Cove, N.Y., on the Long Island Sound. All accepted students are awarded four-year full-tuition scholarships.
Mr. Michel has worked for the Herbert Engineering Company (HEC), a preeminent naval architecture firm, for 38 years, and has helped it grow from a three-man firm to the internationally recognized company it is today. Mr. Michel is currently the Chairman of the Board of HEC’s group of companies, having previously served as President and CEO. His technical expertise includes risk assessment, marine transportation studies, and the design of a wide variety of commercial ship types. Mr. Michel served as the Chairman of the International Maritime Organization’s BLG committee tasked with developing regulations concerning the subdivision of tankers, including criteria for the acceptance of alternative designs to double hull tankers. He is a past Chairman of the Marine Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and chaired several other NAS committees. In 2011 Mr. Michel was awarded the W. Selkirk Owen Award for distinguished service by the Alumni Association of Webb Institute. He is a past-president of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME). In 2002 he was the recipient of SNAME’s highest award, the David W. Taylor Medal; he is a Fellow and Honorary Member of SNAME, a National Associate of the National Research Council of the NAS, and past Chairman of the Webb Institute Board of Trustees.
“Keith was a natural choice for us. His professional business experience will help open doors for our students as well as for fundraising,” stated John Russell, Chair of the Search Committee.
“Keith is highly regarded throughout the marine industry and will be an asset to Webb Institute,” added outgoing President Olsen. “I have worked with Keith for a number of years, as he served both as a Board member and, most recently, as Chairman of the Board, and look forward to a very orderly transition.”
Webb also announced that, effective immediately, Mr. Michel will step down as Chairman of the Board and will be replaced by Dr. George Campbell Jr. “One of the many challenges to this type of transition is to make sure we maintain strong leadership at the Board level. George Campbell is the right person at the right time for this job,” said Will Jenkins, Chair of the Nominating Committee. “The fact that we were able to bring Keith Michel aboard as President and have George Campbell agree to become the Board Chair says a lot about the strength of Webb.”
Said Mr. Michel, “Much of my success as a naval architect and businessman is attributable to the education I received at Webb Institute. Webb is a truly unique institution of higher learning, where each student receives a full tuition scholarship, an outstanding education in systems engineering, a blend of rigorous academic and hands on work experience, and assurances of a job upon graduation. Higher education is undergoing dynamic change, and I look forward to working with Dr. Campbell and all of Webb’s stakeholders as we seek to further enhance the Webb experience. Webb Institute has thrived under the leadership of President Olsen, and I am excited about this opportunity to build upon his legacy.”
“I’m deeply honored to have the opportunity to chair the Board of Trustees of one of the nation’s most selective institutions of higher education,” commented Dr. Campbell. “While Webb is a relatively small college, throughout its 123-year history, its graduates have had an enormous impact on the marine industry, a sector that is critical to America’s national security as well as international commerce. I look forward to working with President Olsen, President-elect Michel, and Webb’s distinguished Board as we face the important challenges confronting an all-scholarship college with an unwavering commitment to academic excellence.”