In Memoriam: Anthony N. Michel, dean emeritus of the College of Engineering

Author: Joan Fallon

Candles in the Grotto

Anthony N. Michel, the Matthew H. McCloskey Dean Emeritus of the College of Engineering and the Frank M. Freimann Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, died Saturday, Feb. 1. He was 84.

Michel was a leading expert in the qualitative analysis of dynamical systems with emphasis on stability theory and applications. His work focused on hybrid dynamical systems and discrete-event systems, large scale dynamical systems, robust stability and systems with saturation nonlinearities.

Michel was co-author of 12 books, past editor-in-chief of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Transactions on Circuits and Systems and past president of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society. He was a life fellow of the IEEE.

Michel joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1984 as chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering. From 1988 until 1998, he served as the McCloskey Dean of the College of Engineering.

“He had an enormous impact on the college,” said Tom Fuja, professor of electrical engineering and interim dean. “His leadership in establishing the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and in laying the groundwork for the strength we have today in nanoelectronics helped transform engineering at Notre Dame.

“Tony came to Notre Dame as an internationally regarded scholar at a time when we were a small faculty that focused almost completely on undergraduate education. His leadership helped push us to the next level,” Fuja said.

Even while leading the college, Michel continued to be a prolific scholar, writing textbooks, supervising doctoral students and carrying out a robust research operation.

“Tony was always a scholar pushing the theoretical frontiers of his field,” said Yih-Fang Huang, professor of electrical engineering and senior associate dean for education and undergraduate programs.

“He also was a very effective administrator, not afraid to make bold decisions. When he was chairman, he once told me that what kept him awake at night was a single thought: ‘What can I do to make the department even better?’ That was his conviction,” Huang said.

Michel earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University and spent seven years in the aerospace industry. He received a master’s degree in mathematics and a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Marquette. In 1973 he received a doctorate of science in applied mathematics from the Technical University of Graz, Austria. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Austria in 1992, was elected a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Engineering in 1992 and was awarded Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Research Award in 1998.

Prior to joining the Notre Dame faculty, Michel held faculty positions for 16 years at Iowa State University. He also held visiting professorships at the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany and the Vienna University of Technology and the Johannes Kepler University of Linz of Austria.

“Tony was full of energy, a big presence at any gathering, always thoughtful, very kind and generous,” said Panos J. Antsaklis, the H. Clifford and Evelyn A. Brosey Professor of Electrical Engineering. “He was a dedicated scholar, precise and thorough, and truly dedicated to his family, especially his wife, Leone.”

Michel and Antsaklis wrote a graduate textbook together, and Antsaklis recalls “spending many late evenings on campus working on the book—‘das buch’ as he called it—after having dinner at the South Dining Hall on campus and enthusiastically discussing the finer points of what should and should not be included in the book.” 

“I will miss his friendship," he said, "and we will all miss his advice. Farewell.”

A funeral service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus, with a reception immediately following at the Morris Inn. There will be a visitation from 2 to 3 p.m. at McGann Hay, University Chapel, 2313 E. Edison Rd.

Contact: Jessica Sieff, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-3933,