Biographies 2


  Meredith C. Gourdine, Ph.D. '48
Engineer, Inventor, Olympic Medallist
Inaugurated in: 1998


Dr. Meredith C. Gourdine is resident and Principal Investigator of Energy Innovations, Inc. The company manages a technology pool which is based on patents in the fields of Electrogosdynamics, Vortadynamics, and Thermovoltaic cells. From 1964 until 1973, he was Chairman and President of Gourdine Systems, Inc., a publicly held R & D corporation. Previously, he was chief Scientist of Curtiss Wright’s Aero Division, Lab Director of Plasmadyne Corporation, and Senior Research Scientist at CalTech Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His creativity and genius for inventions has produced over 70 foreign and U.S. patents and numerous published articles. 

Dr. Gourdine received his Bachelors Degree in Engineering Physics from Cornell University and has a Ph.D in Engineering Physics from the California Institute of Technology. His dedication to scholarship, athletics and hard work has been the hallmark of his career. As a member of the 1952 U.S. Olympic team at Helsinki, Sweden, he won a silver medal in the broad jump competition. 

Dr. Gourdine has served on Pres. Nixon’s Task Force for Small Business, Pres. Johnson’s Advisory Panel on Energy, Mayor Lindsay’s Task Force on Air Pollution, and the Army Science Board. Included among Dr. Gourdine’s many honors is his recognition as a Guggenheim Fellow and his receipt of a Ramo-Woolride Fellowship. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Black Inventors Hall of Fame, The Science and Engineering Hall of Fame, and the Cornell University’s Hall of Fame.


  Isaac (Ike) Heller '43
Founder, Remco Toys and Heller Industrial Parks; Philanthropist
Inaugurated in: 2013


Raised on a rural farm as a small boy, Isaac Heller moved to Brooklyn and studied electrical engineering at Tech. Drafted into the Navy after graduating, he was assigned to repair electronic parts on a ship. To idle away quiet moments, he built toys from spare parts. 

This later inspired him to found an iconic toy manufacturer of the 1950s and 60s – Remco. After selling Remco, Mr. Heller founded Heller Industrial Parks, one of the nation’s largest privately held industrial park owner/ developers. 

Mr. Heller, a generous philanthropist to many organizations including Tech, has famously said, “Brooklyn Tech made my life.”



Joseph J. Jacobs, Ph.D. '34
Engineer, Humanitarian, and Author
Inaugurated in: 2003

The son of hard-working Lebanese immigrant parents, Joseph J. Jacobs, Ph.D. followed Brooklyn Tech by earning his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Chemical Engineering at Polytechnic University.

As a promising young chemical engineer, Dr. Jacobs helped the pharmaceutical giant Merck Co. develop the mass production of the wonder drug penicillin. But, even with such professional success, he was determined to create a thriving business of his own.

At the end of World War II, Dr. Jacobs pulled up his Brooklyn roots and headed west to participate in the post-war California boom. Over the past 55 years, he developed Jacobs Engineering Group from a one-man chemical process consultancy to its present status as one of the world’s engineering-construction companies with over 60 offices on six continents, employing over 35,000 people.

Dr. Jacobs’ lifelong keen interest in education led him to serve as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Polytechnic University. In 1983, he received the Hoover Medal, which recognizes the civic and humanitarian achievements of professional engineers. In 1994, he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering.

In his autobiography entitled, The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur: Family, Culture, and Ethics, he traces the high standards of morality and ethics, which he learned in the ethnic background of his family and the Lebanese American community in Brooklyn. His second book, The Compassionate Conservative, was published in December 1995.

Dr. Joseph Jacobs married Violet Jahara, who introduced him to the arts and fortified his own parents’ insistence on principles and honor. They have three daughters: Linda, Margaret, and Valerie.


Stuart Kessler '47
Chairman, American Institute of CPAs
Inaugurated in: 1998


Stuart Kessler is a founding partner of the firm Goldstein, Golub, Kessler & Company. The firm has grown to be the eighteenth largest CPA firm in the country and the largest one office accounting firm in the world. Mr. Kessler has distinguished himself by becoming President of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) and, more recently, by being elected Chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The honor of heading this 330,000 person organization is equivalent to chairing the American Bar Association or the American Medical Association in the legal and medical fields.

After earning his bachelors degree from Brooklyn College, Mr. Kessler served in the U.S. Air Force. He then earned an MBA from Baruch College, a JD from Brooklyn Law School and an LLM in taxation from NYU.

In addition to being one of the "top" CPA’s in the country, Mr. Kessler is also considered on of the most respected and knowledgeable tax and personal financial planning practitioners. He has been named by Worth Magazine as one of America’s leading financial planners in each of the past three years that they have published such ratings. Accounting Today has consistently named Mr. Kessler as one of the hundred most influential people in accounting and Money Magazine calls him one of the outstanding tax practitioners in the country.



Marvin Kitman '47
TV Critic, Author
Inaugurated in: 1998

Marvin Kitman has been the TV critic of Newsday since 1969. His column is printed in Newsday three times a week and is syndicated nationally by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. The column, in which he is listed ad the "executive producer" , is called "The Marvin Kitman Show." It has lasted longer than many other shows he has written about (David Frost, Dick Cavett, Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson).

He is the author of eight books, the latest being The Making of the Prefident 1789 (Harper Collins). His magazine articles have appeared in Harper’s Penthouse, The American Bar Association Journal, Playboy, and The New York Times Book Review. Before coming to Newsday, he was a freelance writer where his motto was publish - and perish. He worked for a number of defunct publications, including the Saturday Evening Post and Monocle.

Mr. Kitman began his studies of television in 1967 when he was first hired as a TV critic for the New Leader Magazine. He is a regular panelist on the public TV shows "Media Watch" and "World: Comm." For six hears he was the TV Commentator of "The Ten O’Clock News" on WNEW-TV in New York. His commentaries were also heard on the RKO Radio Network, now defunct. He was the co-creator (with Jim Bouton) of a TV sitcom, "Ball Four", on CBS (1976).

He is a graduate of the City College of New York, and a winner of the Townsend Harris Medal (1992). His other honors include the Folio Award (1988), the Society of the Silurians Humorous Writing Award (1991) and Special Commentary Award (1993).

He hopes to be remembered most for being the author of Kitman’s Law: "On the TV screen pure drivel tends to drive off ordinary drivel."


Donald L. Klein, Ph.D. '49
Silicon Gate Transistor Inventor
Inaugurated in: 1999

The leader of the team at Bell Telephone Laboratories that created the polysilicon Field-Effect Transistor in 1966, Dr. Klein’s advance has been the key to very large scale integrated circuits and the advancement of computers and communications technologies. The innovative breakthrough was to employ polycrystalline silicone in a self-aligned process to replace the previously used thin metal films. It has become the standard process for manufacturing all silicon semiconductor memory and microprocessor circuit chips.


Joseph J. Kohn, Ph.D. '50
Eminent Mathematician
Inaugurated in: 2000


A native of Czechoslovakia, Dr. Joseph Kohn immigrated with his family to Ecuador in 1939 and to the United States in 1945. He graduated from Brooklyn Tech in 1950, received a B.S. in Mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953 and his Masters in Mathematics in 1954 and Ph. D. in Mathematics in 1956, both from Princeton University.

Dr. Kohn taught at Brandeis University from 1958-1968. During this time he served as Chairman of the Mathematics Department while still in his 20s. He returned to Princeton University in 1968 where he remains today as Professor of Mathematics. Dr. Kohn’s research positions and visiting Professorships include: Princeton Institute of Advanced Study; Centro de Estudios del IPN de Mexico; Universidad de Buenos Aires; Institut des Hautes Etudes; Stanford university; University of California – Berkeley; Universities of Paris, Rome and Florence; Scuola Normale de Pisa; and Chares University in Prague.
In 1966, Dr. Kohn was elected to the Ameroican Academy of Sciences. In 1977, he was awarded the Steele Prize of nthe American Mathematical Society and in 1998 he was elected into the Unlited States National Academy of Sciences. He received the Bolanzo Prize of the Unions of Czechoslovak Mathematicians and Physicists in 1990. When the University of Bologna celebrated nits 500th anniversary in 1998, they awarded Dr. Kohn an honorary doctorate and described him as “one of the most eminent living mathematicians.”


Sgt. Meyer S. Levin '34
Decorated Air Force Hero
Inaugurated in: 1999

Brooklyn Tech’s first World War II hero, Air Force Master Sergeant Levin was a much decorated B-17 bombardier in the Pacific Theater. He flew in the first planes to attack the enemy after Pearl Harbor and miraculously escaped death in the ill-fated flight that claimed Captain Colin Kelly’s life. On January 7, 1943, his plane ran out of fuel and the crew was ordered to parachute to safety. But, Sgt. Levin remained onboard long enough to drop the life raft that saved the crew’s lives. He did not survive the crash.


Harvey Lichtenstein '46
President, Brooklyn Academy of Music
Inaugurated in: 1999

An impresario with a world-wide reputation as an innovator in the arts, Mr. Lichtenstein guided the Brooklyn Academy of Music for thirty-two years, creating America’s leading contemporary performing arts institution. From 1971 to 1973 he served as the American Director of Italy’s Spoleto Festival and he created the cutting edge Next Wave Festival at BAM in 1983. His extraordinary contribution to the arts has been recognized in awards including Sweden’s Order of the Polar Star and the induction into the Chevalier French Legion of Honor.


William L. Mack '57
Real Estate Leader and Philanthropist
Inaugurated in: 2003


For over four decades, Brooklyn-born William L. Mack has been developing and revitalizing the real estate projects around the globe. From a single 5 ½ acre site in North Bergen, New Jersey, he and his companies have built, acquired or invested in tens of millions of square feet of office buildings, residential, retail, hotel and industrial properties in 14 countries.

Following Brooklyn Tech, Mr. Mack studied engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and business and finance at the Wharton School before graduating in 1962 from N.Y.U.’s School of Business.

After serving in the Air Force, he began his real estate career with that one North Bergen site – which his company still owns – and went on to such projects as the dramatic new AOL Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Mr. Mack also turned around the once-troubled Javits Convention Center project and exercised his leadership as the first Chairman of the Long Island Power Authority.

In 1993, Mr. Mack launched the Apollo Real Estate Investment Fund, which has invested approximately $30 billion in properties around the world and is Chairman of Mack-Cali Realty Corporation.

Known for his integrity, intelligence and insightful approach to business, Mr. Mack has also been a leading philanthropist. He is a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and serves on the Executive Committee and the Board of Overseers of the Wharton School. He also founded the Mack Center for Technological Innovation at Wharton, a program to help companies develop the best strategies to compete and succeed in industries being transformed by emerging technologies.

William Mack lives in New York with his wife of 39 years, Phyllis. They have two sons, Richard and Stephen, and two grandchildren.

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