Albert Dorman, Board of Councilors Member and One of Disneyland’s First Engineers, Dies at 97

Michael Speier | November 17, 2023

Influential civil engineering alumnus was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and founding chairman of AECOM

(Photo/Courtesy of USC Viterbi)

(Photo/Courtesy of USC Viterbi)

Albert Dorman, a USC Viterbi civil engineering alumnus and USC Viterbi Board of Councilors member who shaped the engineering field worldwide as much as he shaped the Southern California landscape, passed away on November 14 at his home in Pacific Palisades. He was 97.

Generous, thoughtful and a brilliant thinker who ran one of the country’s most revered engineering firms, Dorman was the quintessential leader who admired and respected people as much as the work they produced.

“He made a huge impact on many different lives. He really did,” his family said.

Added USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos: “Al was a wonderful mentor, trusted colleague, advisor, and an extraordinary human. His is a legacy of humanity, creativity, and ingenuity.”

Having received his M.S. from USC Viterbi’s Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1962, Dorman eventually became the chairman and first CEO of AECOM, a global infrastructure company that often lands among Fortune magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies.”

Raised in Rockland County, New York, his professional ascent began in 1954, when Dorman started his own civil engineering firm in central California. It was acquired in 1966 by Los Angeles-based Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall, for which Dorman later became chairman and CEO.

He was eventually named chairman and CEO of Ashland Technology Corp., the holding company of DMJM and several other Ashland engineering companies. When the opportunity arose to purchase Ashland Technology, Dorman became the founding chairman and first CEO of AECOM, which was formed to make the purchase.

Despite his success at AECOM, his most “famous” achievement was his connection to one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world; as Disneyland’s civil engineer of record, his signature is on the theme park’s original plans.

Dorman, who was profiled in USC Viterbi Magazine back in 2018, has been a significant part of the university for decades. In 2014, USC Viterbi honored him with the Daniel J. Epstein Engineering Management Award at the annual Viterbi Awards, and, in 2016, he was inducted into the university’s Half Century Trojans Hall of Fame.

His generosity led to a strong philanthropic history with USC. He was the namesake of several significant USC Viterbi undergraduate academic awards, including the USC Albert Dorman Grand Challenge Scholar Award, the USC Albert Dorman Endowed Future Leader Award and the USC Albert Dorman Scholar Award, given to the USC Viterbi undergraduate class valedictorian. Additionally, he was namesake of the USC Albert A. Dorman Endowment Award in Civil and Environmental Engineering for Public Policy and Infrastructure Leadership.

He also supported the Innovation in Engineering Design for Global Challenges program, the USC Viterbi National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholar Award and the USC Viterbi Innovation Fund. Other areas he supported throughout the decades included the USC School of Architecture, the USC Price School of Public Policy and KUSC.

He was also the recipient of countless awards, tributes and honors.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, he named the Albert Dorman Honors College at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he earned his B.S (after graduating from college, he served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the end of World War II). He was a trustee of the Gladstone Institutes, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Dorman served on many community and public service boards, including the City of Los Angeles and the State of California Chambers of Commerce, the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts and the host committee for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles — he even ran with the Olympic torch.

“I’ve devoted my life to a broad variety of things where I thought I could make a difference,” Dorman told Viterbi Magazine in 2018.

He is survived by his wife, three children, three grandchildren and a sister.

Published on November 17th, 2023

Last updated on November 17th, 2023

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