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The Passing of Howard N. Blitman ’50, P.E

From the President's Desk

To: The Rensselaer Community
Re: The Passing of Howard N. Blitman ’50, P.E

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Trustee Howard N. Blitman, Class of 1950, on January 3, 2021. He was 94. 

Trustee Blitman received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer, and a master of arts degree in political science and government from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research in New York City in 1976. Building upon the establishment of Blitman Construction Corporation by his father, Charles H Blitman of the class of 1914, Trustee Blitman was the owner and president of Blitman Building Corporation.

As a student, Trustee Blitman was president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, an editor of the Transit, and a member of Phi Sigma Delta. For more than 65 years, he was an extremely generous and involved alumnus. 

Trustee Blitman was a member of the Stephen Van Rensselaer Society of Patroons and the Heritage Society. He served as an adjunct member of the board of trustees at Rensselaer from 2005 to 2011, when he was elected an honorary trustee. He also served as a member of the advisory boards for the Department of Civil Engineering, and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

He participated in New York City phone-a-thons, and encouraged and recruited other alumni to support the initiatives of the Institute. He previously served as a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame Balloting Committee and Annual Fund Leadership Gift Committee. 

Trustee Blitman also supported a number of key initiatives under The Rensselaer Plan. In 2009, he renovated a former hotel in downtown Troy into a new residence hall for undergraduate students. The new residence hall was named the Howard N. Blitman, P.E. ’50 Residence Commons, in his honor. 

In recognition of his contributions to his alma mater, and his great generosity, Rensselaer has bestowed upon Trustee Blitman the Alis Aquilae Medal (2007), Distinguished Service Award (2006), Alumni Fellows Award (2002), the Albert Fox Demers Medal (1997), and the Alumni Key (1991).

An officer in the Chemical Corps, United States Army, during World War II, Trustee Blitman also studied at the Virginia Military Institute. During the Korean War, he was recalled to active duty and took charge of the construction of a chemical plant. He received Special Commendation from the Chief of the Chemical Corps.

Trustee Blitman resumed his career as the engineer in charge of field installations erection and detail design of buildings for a steel fabricating firm. He then joined Blitman Construction Corporation and its associated engineering firm, working in structural design, and as field superintendent, estimator, expeditor, project manager, and then corporate officer, a position to which the board of directors elected him in 1962. In 1970, he was elected president and served until 1981, when he formed Blitman Building Corporation, now Blitman Development. Professional Builder has ranked the company as one of 400 top home builders.

Licensed to practice engineering as a professional engineer in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and South Carolina, Trustee Blitman led firms and directed their progress in such diverse fields as institutional, academic, residential, and commercial construction. Some of his leading projects are the Customs House of the World Trade Center, New York City; the Transportation Center of Journal Square, New Jersey; numerous high-rise luxury condominium apartments and suburban housing developments throughout the East Coast; and many high-quality industrial projects. He was involved with, and directed the construction for, high-rise luxury apartments, mid-rise apartments, and town house and low-rise flats, both luxury and affordable, in excess of 35,000 units. 

Professional Recognitions and Contributions
Trustee Blitman has long been a leader in the Professional Engineering Society of the State of New York and was very active in the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). He served as president of the New York Chapter/NYSSPE from 1974-75 and chairman of the Metropolitan Chapters Presidents Council. He was elected president of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers for 1978-79, and was later elected as the 2002-03 president of the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was also elected by his peers to Fellow Grade of the National Society of Professional Engineers in 2001. Trustee Blitman was active on many committees for the National Society of Professional Engineers, particularly the education and scholarship committees, and the construction committee. He was elected to Fellow Grade of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2005.

He was a trustee of Continuum Health Partners Inc./Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and had served as one of the vice chairmen of the Board of Trustees. He was a trustee on the Board of Overseers of Beth Israel and also served on the board of the Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing. He was also a board member of the New School for Social Research.

For more than 50 years, Trustee Blitman volunteered for the Jewish Child Care Agency of New York, once serving as chairman of its board of directors. He was active with the UJA-Federation of New York for more than 25 years, serving on many subcommittees, including sitting on the Capital Project Review Committee and the Jewish Communal Network Commission.

Family and Rensselaer Legacy
Trustee Blitman was born in 1926. In addition to his father, the late Charles Blitman ’14, he is the nephew of the late Irving Blitman ’19. Trustee Blitman is married to Maureen Blitman. They have three children and eight grandchildren. His grandson, Jacob Tinkhauser, is a member of the Class of 2017 at Rensselaer, and with this latest legacy, there have been Blitmans at Rensselaer for over 100 years. 

Our deepest thoughts are with the family and friends of Trustee Howard N. Blitman ’50, and we honor the contributions he made to both the Rensselaer community and to the world. We will come together in person, as the Rensselaer community, later in the year, to celebrate the life and contributions of our beloved Trustee, Howard Blitman.