Dr. Henry (Hank) Christiansen retires

Renowned civil engineering professor retires after nearly 50 years of service

- Melanie Brook

After nearly half a century, Dr. Henry (Hank) Christiansen is finishing up his final semester as an engineering professor at BYU. The Clyde and Crabtree buildings were flooded with a sea of yellow “Thank you Dr. C” stickers as students and faculty demonstrated their appreciation for him (Left: Aarron Cook, Right: Johnathon Archer).

In his 48 years as a professor, Christiansen has taught the majority of engineering students that have attended BYU, including many current faculty members in the college. Regardless of emphasis, most engineering students must take the fundamental courses that Christiansen taught, including statics, materials and dynamics. In addition to teaching and holding previous leadership positions such as department chair, Christiansen founded the Engineering Computer Graphics Laboratory, the Engineering Mechanics Instructional Laboratory and CAEDM. Christiansen was also instrumental in the beginnings of computer graphics, developing one of the first ever animation software packages.

His service here at BYU has inspired and motivated many students and faculty, who shared the following comments about Christiansen:

“My favorite thing about Dr. C is that he loves his students and is very unselfish.” – Dr. Rollin Hotchkiss, chair of the BYU Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

“He didn’t just teach the course material, he’d tell stories about how to succeed in life.” – Chris Bender, a junior in civil engineering

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him come in late or miss an appointment. He loves to teach.” – Kim Glade, the civil engineering department secretary

“He keeps class interesting with his stories. He has the BEST stories.” – Mandy Bitnoff, civil engineering master’s student

“I loved that his class was very organized and that he knows everything. My favorite part of his class was his demonstrations to explain concepts. He made every day enjoyable.” – Cathryn Ellis, a senior in civil engineering