The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Dean of Padnos College to retire after over 30 years of service

GVL/ Aida Dennis

Dean of Padnos College of Engineering and Computing (PCEC) at Grand Valley State University, Paul Plotkowski, Ph.D., plans to retire at the end of the 2023 academic year. 

From a town in Southeast Michigan called Utica, Plotkowski feels making connections and meeting others in the field led him to West Michigan and eventually to experience many impactful moments with GVSU.

Plotkowski holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Oakland University. He is also a first-generation college graduate.

Plotkowski has spent over 30 years in education at GVSU and watched as the university has grown. He dedicated his early years at GVSU to building the PCEC from the ground up.

“After the first few years of leading the program, I saw the transition of faculty take over the leading roles that I had previously held, and my role became more supportive. It was incredible to see,” Plotkowski said.

In 1991, Plotkowski was named Director of the School of Engineering at GVSU.

The Padnos College was established on July 1, 2004, as part of the academic reorganization at GVSU, 13 years after Plotkowski began his work within the engineering program. The college includes the School of Engineering, the School of Computing, the Occupational Safety and Health Management Department and coordination of the Professional Science Masters Programs. 

Prior to the reorganization, the Padnos School of Engineering, the Department of Computer Science & Information Systems and the Occupational Safety program were all elements of the Science & Mathematics Division at GVSU.

As faculty helped build up PCEC at GVSU, Plotkowski further appreciated and emphasized the importance of teamwork and collaboration.

“Of course, the students are a large part of the university and the Engineering and Computing program. We have them for four or five years, but then they graduate,” Plotkowski said. “The faculty and professors really make GVSU and the program what it is. Don’t forget to thank them.” 

Plotkowski served as the International Vice President of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He has also served in mechanical, manufacturing and interdisciplinary engineering degree programs for the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology (ABET) while at GVSU.

Plotkowski has received various awards including the Dedicated Service Award from ASME, the SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer of the Year award, the Outstanding Educator award from Pi Tau Sigma and the Alva K. Borman Award for career accomplishments in cooperative education.  Most recently, he was recognized as the 2018 Manufacturing Talent Champion by the Michigan Manufacturer’s Association. 

Plotkowski has over 75 professional publications and presentations on various topics. These range from stress analysis and machine vision to engineering education and enhancing student success. 

“We are very grateful for all the things Dean Plotkowski has done for our GVSU section of SWE and the countless opportunities he has provided the engineering students with during his time at Grand Valley,” GVSU’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Executive Board said.

Additionally, Plotkowski and the Vice President for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach at GVSU B. Donta Truss also developed the Historically Black College/University (HBCU) & Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Pipeline Consortium

Since this development, six colleges have partnered with GVSU, creating opportunities for students to earn advanced degrees while expanding the talent pipeline in West Michigan.

Plotkowski said his retirement is a transitional period and reflects on all that he has experienced throughout the years at GVSU.

“I guess I have to grow up now,” Plotkowski said. 

More to Discover