AFIT Graduate School dean retires after four-decade career

  • Published
  • By Katie Scott
  • Air Force Institute of Technology

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Adedeji Badiru, Graduate School of Engineering and Management dean at the Air Force Institute of Technology, retired in January after 10 years in the position.

A distinguished industrial engineer, Badiru’s career extends over 38 years. He joined the Graduate School of Engineering and Management in October 2006 as head of the Systems Engineering and Management Department and ascended to the dean’s position in October 2013, overseeing significant achievements and transformations.

“Dr. Badiru’s positive influence on AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management will be felt for many years to come,” said Walter Jones, AFIT director and chancellor.

Under his guidance, AFIT achieved the maximum 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission and earned the esteemed National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research designation by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

Badiru fostered collaborations, notably with AFWERX, enabling AFIT faculty to contribute as subject matter experts for secretary of the Air Force-directed programs, facilitating flexible and rapid acquisition.

“Dean Badiru is to be commended for his unflagging commitment to telling the AFIT story nationally and internationally,” said Heidi Ries, AFIT provost and chief academic officer. “His efforts have significantly increased recognition of the Graduate School’s outstanding academic and research contributions.”

Recognizing the evolving landscape of education, Badiru spearheaded initiatives such as establishment of the Data Analytics Research Group, Graduate School’s Teaching Evaluation Tool and Thesis Processing Center, transitioning traditional methods to electronic theses and dissertations. His commitment was further exemplified by creating the Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning, later evolving into the AFIT Center of Innovation in Education, providing valuable resources for faculty development and student learning.

During Badiru’s tenure as dean, the Graduate School created 12 new master’s degree and 15 graduate certificate programs. In 2020, he successfully led the transition of over 1,000 faculty, staff and students to conduct more than 130 courses online, showcasing adaptability in the face of challenges. A year later, he aligned Graduate School resources to meet the educational needs of the newly established Space Force.

He served as an external reviewer on the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc. and brought back lessons learned to establish and lead an ABET Accreditation Advisory and Consulting Team to advance its initiatives in all Graduate School academic programs.

Under his strategic direction, faculty-research funding nearly tripled from $16.4 million in 2013 to $45.8 million in 2023. This growth led to the establishment of three new research centers, fostering expertise in nuclear-advancing technologies, homeland security best practices, and digital innovation and integration. As a result, faculty published more than 6,000 refereed papers, proceedings, abstracts, books, and book chapters and were awarded 57 patents.

Badiru’s dedication to faculty development is evident in the creation of Graduate School-level awards and mentorship programs. Notable recognitions include faculty receiving Air Force-level science, technology, engineering and math awards, distinguished professor honors, Fulbright Scholar selections and participation in prestigious fellowship programs.

As a leader in innovation, he initiated and hosted the inaugural Defense Innovation Symposium, facilitating crucial discussions on artificial intelligence, distributed and connected capabilities, and space-based operations. His co-editorship of the 2019 Defense Innovation Handbook further highlighted his commitment to advancing knowledge in these domains.

Beyond his administrative role, Badiru is a prolific author and mentor, contributing significantly to the academic community with over 40 books, 35 book chapters, 130 journal and magazine articles, and 200 conference presentations. His trademarked “DEJI Systems Model” for systems design showcases his expertise in mathematical modeling, project and economic analysis, and systems engineering.

Badiru earned a bachelor’s in industrial engineering and master’s degrees in mathematics and industrial engineering from Tennessee Tech University, as well as a doctoral degree in industrial engineering from the University of Central Florida. He is a registered professional engineer, certified Project Management Professional, Fellow of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering. He’s also a member of several professional associations and scholastic honor societies, including the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences and American Society for Engineering Education.

His significant contributions have been recognized through numerous awards, including the Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Society International’s Frederick Winslow Taylor Award in 2022, Career Achievement in Government Award from Career Communications Group in 2021, and second annual Taylor and Francis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.

As Badiru embarks on a well-deserved retirement, AFIT leaders say his legacy remains indelible, marked by transformative leadership, scholarly contributions and unwavering dedication to excellence.