Faculty Hall of Fame
Feb. 17, 1954 – June 8, 2020
All people are unique—my father more than most. He lived an atypical life and possessed a versatile set of skills that are hard to match.
My dad was born into the wrong side of a colonial apartheid state in Algiers, Algeria, but grew up on the winning side of a revolution. His family did not have great means before or after. With two older brothers, he wore hand-me-downs and used shoes and never had many material possessions of his own. Growing up he relied on his mind to keep himself occupied and excelled at school. He told stories from ancient history and mythology, read poetry and learned to play the guitar rather than soccer. When wooing my mother, Zohra Zbiri, the daughter of a rather influential national figure, he could not afford gifts. Instead, he carved her handmade gifts out of wood. Convincing her to give him a chance may have been his greatest feat.
At university in Algeria, he won a limited chance to go study engineering in the United States. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the University of Florida (UF) before embarking upon a career as a professor at the University of North Florida, the University of West Florida and SUNY Oswego.
He was the only person I knew who could write music and poetry, sing, play instruments, paint, sculpt, solve complex physics equations and build a robot in the same day. He routinely won the amateur sand sculpting contest on Pensacola Beach and never failed to medal. He spoke five languages fluently throughout his life: Berber, Arabic, French, English and Spanish, which he learned just so he could communicate with my wife’s family. He used both halves of his brain and taught his children that the learning process never ends.
What our family would like to convey to SUNY Oswego is that as often as my father was apparently expressing his love for his family to others, he was at the same time endlessly expressing his love and admiration for the administration, faculty and students of SUNY Oswego to his family. My father loved teaching and was incredibly proud of his students’ accomplishments. He often spoke with great admiration about students and colleagues that overcame difficult obstacles to obtain their place in academia and proudly sent videos to the family of his students competing in various competitions.
When SUNY Oswego hired him to help create an undergraduate level electrical engineering program (and then built a fancy building to accommodate it and other sciences), we knew he hit his jackpot. I would occasionally joke to him that Oswego is an awfully small town for such a worldly man, and without fail, he would quickly retort “but it has a great university.”
Over the last few years, I often tried to convince him to retire and move to Miami but he made it clear that he loved SUNY Oswego so much he wanted to work until he died. When he was forced to retire at the end of this academic year due to health issues, I knew he had lost an important part of himself…something irreplaceable.
If there is one thing my family asks be remembered about my father, Professor Rachid Manseur, it is how much he loved SUNY Oswego. To the administration, faculty and the students, please know that he spoke only glowing words about all of you to those he knew. My family is forever indebted to SUNY Oswego, its administration, faculty and students for the wonderful opportunity provided to him as a Professor of Electrical Engineering and for the friendships made along the way. You gave him purpose and allowed him to live his dream.
—By Mehdi Manseur, on behalf of the Manseur Family