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A legacy of success

Allan Crasto

Crasto retires: A legacy of success for UDRI, UD and Ohio

By Pamela Gregg, Communication Administrator, 937-229-3268

When Allan Crasto retires as Executive Director of the University of Dayton Research Institute March 1, he will leave behind a legacy of significant organizational growth in a variety of forms. In the five years since he assumed the role, sponsored research revenue grew by 70 percent to $170 million, the employee population grew by 60 percent to 709, UD rose from third to first place among all colleges in the nation in materials research, and UDRI was reorganized and rebranded.

But Crasto’s contributions to research growth began 32 years ago, when he joined UDRI as a research scientist specializing in polymer-matrix composites. He quickly earned a reputation not only for his technical expertise, but for his ability to develop relationships with Department of Defense and industry customers and build research programs, said John Leland, vice president for research at UD.

“As a researcher, Allan helped build our programs in advanced materials and our reputation in nanomaterials, a quickly growing field,” Leland said. “He was promoted a number of times in a relatively short span of time, not only for his technical accomplishments, but for his leadership abilities that significantly contributed to research growth.”

After serving for seven years as division head for what was then the Institute’s nonmetallic materials division, Crasto was named Associate Director in 2006 and Director in 2016. His title was changed to executive director in 2019 as significant organizational growth warranted the addition of separate directors for business development and business services.

Crasto was a natural selection for leadership, not only because of the depth of his experience in research and program development, but for his innate talent in building relationships, collaborations and partnerships across the Institute, campus and external communities, Leland said, citing a few of many noteworthy accomplishments:

As division head, Crasto played a critical role in the creation of the Wright Brothers Institute Endowed Chair in Nanomaterials and the establishment of a state-of-the-art Nanoscale Engineering, Science and Technology Center on campus, a result of his work to secure funds from the state of Ohio’s first technology-based economic development programs.

While associate director, Crasto wrote and led the proposal that garnered $3.5 million from the state of Ohio for renovation of UD’s River Campus building (now Daniel J. Curran Place), then spearheaded the planning and implementation of the Institute’s move of personnel and equipment to the new space. He also played a principal role in developing the partnership that brought the GE Aviation EPISCenter to the University of Dayton campus.

During his five-year tenure as director, the Research Institute experienced record-breaking revenue each year, accounting for more than 25 percent of the $2.75 billion in total sponsored research performed in the Institute’s 64-year history. Materials research at UDRI—to include the new field of additive manufacturing—continued to thrive, boosting the University of Dayton’s national ranking in materials research to first place, according to the National Science Foundation’s annual research and development rankings among U.S. colleges.

Many of these efforts led to economic development and job creation not only within UDRI, but in Dayton and Ohio by way of the business partnerships that grew from them, Leland said.

As important as these and other initiatives are, none of them would have been possible without our staff, and Crasto was keenly aware of that, Leland added. “Of all the complimentary things I could say about Allan, I think the most noteworthy is that his strong devotion to the success of the Research Institute was matched—if not exceeded—by his devotion to the success of its people, and he worked tirelessly to create or improve numerous initiatives designed to foster enhanced employee growth,  recognition and satisfaction.”

Some of Crasto’s employee-oriented initiatives included intra-organizational activities designed to share information, address business challenges and enhance the working climate, Leland said. He is also a strong proponent of entrepreneurialism and recently contributed to the creation of the University’s Propel Dayton program, which provides support to employees who want to start up a technology-based company, Leland added.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Allan,” Leland said. “Without exception, he has carried himself with the highest level of integrity. He’s never shied away from dealing with very difficult problems, and he’s always addressed them mindfully, with heart and compassion. No one will miss his experience, caring and insights more than me.”

Leland, who served as director of UDRI for 10 years before being named vice president for research, will serve as interim executive director for the Research Institute until plans for filling the position are finalized.

Jan. 13, 2021

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