Michael Zabat, an aerodynamics engineer and Stoney Creek High School dad, will be sworn in Monday as the newest member of the Rochester Board of Education.
Zabat, a former engineering professor at the University of Southern California who works as a consultant in Troy, was appointed by board members Wednesday night.
After more than four hours of interviews and deliberation, board members unanimously agreed that Zabat's background, education and outlook on school leadership would be a fitting complement to the board.
"When I looked at the candidates I thought about who was least like the people at this table," said board Trustee Beth Talbert in stressing the improtance of diversity on the board.
Zabat was one of five finalists for the board seat vacated by . The one woman and four men were each interviewed for a half hour by board members. After, board members ranked each candidate and narrowed the pool to three candidates: Zabat, Gary Tucker and Sherry Wynn Perdue.
Zabat said he would bring to the board an open mind and unique perspective as an engineer, consultant, educator and father. During questioning by the board, he emphasized the importance of educating kids so they are adaptable and teaching them how to be creative in their solutions.
He said he would approach the district's budget process the way he approaches his job as a systems engineer: by taking a complex system and breaking it down.
"I recently declined a couple of enticing career opportunities out of state because my wife and I decided that we did not want to move," he stated in his application to the board. "We love it here. I want to contribute to this community that welcomed my wife and me 17 years ago.
"I can't think of a better way to serve the community than to provide my time and talent to the growth of our school system."
The night's five finalists were chosen from a pool of 15 candidates, who were interviewed by board members Monday night.
Zabat will be sworn in at the board's next regular meeting Monday.