A posthumously published book cements Fletcher (Bud) Griffis’ legacy of leadership and ethical practice
Professor Emeritus Fletcher H. (Bud) Griffis was a beloved and respected figure at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering for more than 20 years. When he passed away, on March 20, 2021, at the age of 82, the school published a tribute that detailed his engineering accomplishments (which included supervising the 1969 construction of a 27-mile highway used as a supply route from the southern Mekong Delta to Saigon and leading a 1980 project to build air bases in the Negev, a requirement of the Camp David Peace Accords), his devotion to the military (which began when he was a cadet at West Point and continued throughout his life), his tireless work at the helm of the Society of American Military Engineers New York City Post Scholarship Fund, and his devotion to Tandon — where he served variously as Provost, Dean of Engineering, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering.
Now readers can peruse another sort of tribute: his final book, Leadership, Ethics, and Project Execution, published posthumously and co-written with West Point classmate Frederick B. Plummer, Jr., and Francis X. DarConte, a former graduate student who later began teaching alongside Griffis at NYU Tandon.
“The book is truly a testimony to Bud’s life and contribution to his profession,” DarConte says, explaining that Leadership, Ethics, and Project Execution presents a combination of theory and lived experience to bring perspective and knowledge to the newly minted engineer, architect, or construction manager. “He was deeply influenced by his time at West Point, an institution whose core purpose is to inspire, instill leadership, and nurture a strong sense of ethics.”
Griffis had long sensed a need for a book detailing the importance of ethical leadership in his industry, and when he approached Routledge Publishing, they agreed. The volume, which the trio of authors worked on for two years, provides something of a masterclass in the skills that can set design and construction professionals apart from their peers. “He saw the need to teach the technical-side, and he had the wisdom to teach the people-side of his profession,” DarConte says. “Ths book captures the essence of Bud’s lifework and serves as his legacy to built-environment professionals.”
It was an emotional undertaking for DarConte, who counts Griffis as one of the most important mentors in his life, to complete the manuscript after his professor’s passing. “I wanted to bring the publishing of the book to a conclusion simply as a way to close the final chapter of Bud’s professional legacy,” DarConte says. “Frankly, I wish I had this book in my hands decades ago when starting my own journey. On a personal level, I miss him every day. And, as I have stated on more than one occasion, my connection to Bud not only made me a better practitioner, but, I would like to believe, a better person.”
The book now provides readings for an NYU Tandon graduate-level construction management capstone course of the same title, as well as an undergraduate civil engineering leadership and ethics course — class offerings aimed at encouraging students to become, like DarConte, not only better construction professionals but better people.
New incoming classes will never get the privilege of studying with Griffis, but Leadership, Ethics, and Project Execution will ensure that his words of wisdom and firm moral compass get passed on.