About Domenico Grasso

Chancellor Domenico Grasso, Ph.D.

Domenico Grasso in front of block M Dearborn
Chancellor Domenico Grasso

Domenico Grasso is the sixth chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the first Michigan graduate to lead the university. He also is an executive officer of the University of Michigan and serves as professor of public policy and sustainable engineering at UM-Dearborn. 

Grasso’s career in higher education has been marked by significant contributions to engineering education, environmental engineering research, enrollment management, diversity and inclusion, and community engagement. Directly prior to joining UM-Dearborn in 2018, he was provost and chief academic officer at the University of Delaware, where he spearheaded efforts ranging from the creation of the Division of Enrollment Management and Institute for Financial Services Analytics, to community engagement and cybersecurity initiatives. At Delaware, he was also instrumental in the development of new university programs in entrepreneurship, the humanities, social sciences and the arts. 

Grasso earned his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of Michigan and began his academic career as professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut, where he also served as department head. He then moved to Smith College, holding posts as the Rosemary Bradford Hewlett Professor and founding director of Smith’s Picker Engineering Program — the first engineering program at a women’s college and one of the few at a liberal arts college in the United States. Later, he served as dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and vice president for research at the University of Vermont.

Grasso is a passionate defender of sustainability and environmentally conscious practices, and his research has delved deeply into the fate of environmental contaminants and the development of techniques to reduce risks to human health and the natural world. His work has been supported by federal, state and industry partners, and he has authored more than 100 journal articles and reports; his work has been cited extensively. In addition, he has held several high-profile posts in the environmental engineering field, including fellow on NATO’s Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society, technical expert to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, vice chair of the Science Advisory Board for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and president of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. Grasso was also a member of a World Bank-funded international team of scholars that established the first environmental engineering program in Argentina, and addressed the Congress of the Republic of Peru on the topic of sustainable development. 

Grasso is considered an influential thinker in the field of engineering education. He views engineering as a natural bridge between science and humanity, and many of his writings have reasoned for the importance of the social sciences, arts and humanities in better contextualizing the relevance of STEM education. As editor and chief contributor to the book Holistic Engineering Education: Beyond Technology (Springer 2010), Grasso explored new paradigms for 21st-century engineering education. In his own teaching, he has taken on the full spectrum of challenges — from a National Science Foundation-recognized undergraduate class for non-engineering majors, to technically rigorous courses that also explore societal, ethical and philosophical issues facing today’s engineers and scientists. He has even found ways to engage the youngest STEM learners, co-founding, along with pioneer astronaut Sally Ride, TOYChallenge —  a nationwide toy design event for middle school students.

A frequent collaborator with other scholars and academic leaders, Grasso currently serves on advisory boards for MIT and Olin College, and has previously been a member of advisory boards at Colgate, Tufts, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the National Academy of Engineering. In addition, he has held posts as associate editor of the journal Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology and editor-in-chief of Environmental Engineering Science.

Grasso is a U.S. Army veteran having spent over ten years on both active and reserve status. He resigned his commission at the rank of Major after receiving citations and awards including the Army Commendation Medal and Army Parachutist Badge.

Grasso’s wife, Susan Hull Grasso, is also an accomplished engineer and Michigan alumna. Together, they have four adult children, Benjamin, Jacob, Elspeth and Caitlín. He and Susan enjoy reading, cycling, hiking, skiing, and spending time outdoors with their dogs.

Office of the Chancellor

1070 - Administration Building
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
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Phone: 313-593-5500
Fax: 313-593-5204