After four decades of conducting research in geosystems engineering, Michael McVay, Ph.D., a University Term Professor in the Department of Civil & Coastal Engineering within the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment (ESSIE), retired and has been named professor emeritus.
Dr. McVay joined the department in December of 1981 as an assistant professor, he was promoted to associate professor in August of 1987. Dr. McVay was promoted to professor in December of 1996.
“We celebrate Dr. McVay’s 40-year career of dedicated teaching, impactful research and distinguished service. Students and colleagues describe him as an honest and devoted mentor who looks for solutions beyond the obvious. He thrives on the frontiers of research, pursuing the most demanding and emergent areas of geosystems engineering. His consistent commitment to seek new ways to mentor and embrace fresh challenges is inspiring, and his positive impacts on science and teaching are indelible. We are grateful he chose to spend his career at UF,” said Kirk Hatfield, a professor and director in ESSIE.
Prior to his tenure at UF, Dr. McVay earned his bachelor’s and master’s from the State University of New York Buffalo and his doctorate in civil engineering in 1982 from the University of Massachusetts.
His research began by focusing on flow through porous media, specifically phosphatic waste clay pond reclamation and gas flow through concrete. Then his studies shifted to soil-structure interaction, wave propagation, monitoring while drilling and geostatistics related to foundation design.
Dr. McVay has written multiple papers on instrumentation use and testing of soil and rock on a site for assessing properties and reducing uncertainty for improved designs and construction. In Sept. 1990, Dr. McVay was recognized by the American Society for Engineering Education as the South Eastern Best Engineering Paper for South Eastern for his research on the “Role of Geotechnical Engineer.” He received a letter of accommodation from the U.S. Air Force in June 1991 on his paper on “Identify Damage Mechanism to Airfield Aprons Due Synthetic Oils, Water and Heat.” Most recently, Dr. McVay was awarded in 2018 from the Florida Engineering Society GMEC “In Recognition of Outstanding Service to the Geotechnical and Materials Engineering Profession.”
“I most enjoyed teaching students as well as collaborating with students and colleagues on research that improves infrastructure design, construction and maintenance,” Dr. McVay said.
Throughout his career, he has mentored over 100 students. He has been a faculty advisor to more than 15 doctoral students, 10 post-doctoral students and 50 master’s students.
“Besides the teaching, research and publications, the interactions with my colleagues, and students from all over the world were very special. Likewise, receiving Christmas cards, phone calls, and emails from current and past students on their life, family and work are very special,” Dr. McVay said.
During retirement, Dr. McVay plans to visit all the national parks and the Bureau of Land Management from New Mexico to the Canadian border. He is interested in hiking and seeing wildlife in native habitats. After approximately a year of traveling, he plans to work on research with colleagues.
When asked about what he will miss most about UF after leaving the university, Dr. McVay responded, “I don’t think you can ever leave. I am a Gator for life.”