Karl S. Pister is a CSHE faculty affiliate and served as director of the Center from 2002 to 2004.
Pister is the Chancellor Emeritus of the University of California, Santa Cruz, former Vice President for Educational Outreach of the University of California, and chair of the governing board of the California Council on Science and Technology. Prior to retirement he completed five decades of service to higher education, beginning his career in higher education as Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley. He served as Chairman of the Division of Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics before his appointment as Dean of the College of Engineering in 1980, a position he held for ten years. From 1985 to 1990 he was the first holder of the Roy W. Carlson Chair in Engineering. From 1991 to 1996 he served as chancellor of UC Santa Cruz.
He received the Wason Medal for Research, awarded by the American Concrete Institute and was the recipient of Distinguished Alumni Awards from both the University of Illinois and the University of California, Berkeley Colleges of Engineering. The American Society for Engineering Education presented him with the Vincent Bendix Award for Minorities in Engineering, and the Lamme Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the society, for his contributions to engineering education. He is also the recipient of the Berkeley Medal, awarded by UC Berkeley, the Presidential Medal of the University of California and the Year 2000 Presidential Award of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Pister is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Mechanics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an Honorary Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, and the Board of Trustees of the American University of Armenia. He also served as founding chairman of the Board on Engineering Education of the National Research Council.