Dean, College of Engineering, University of California at Davis (2015-2020)
The Dean of the College of Engineering (COE) serves as the administrative head of the college, provides academic leadership, resource management and represents the COE to the Chancellor, the Provost, and wider communities both internal and external to UC Davis. The COE includes eight academic departments with over 200 faculty and 5,000 students. College research expenditures for 2019-2020 exceeded $92 million.
During five years as Dean, the college achieved a number of unprecedented milestones:
- The two largest cash gifts: $6.5M to name the Engineering Student Design Center (ESDC) and $5.3M to name the Student Startup Center space within the ESDC
- The largest planned gift ($10M) for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Highest research expenditures ($92.6M)
- Highest research awards ($107.1M)
- Highest undergraduate retention in engineering (61%)
- Lowest time to degree (4.1 years)
- Highest academic peer perception score (3.6); tied for highest USNWR graduate engineering ranking (#31)
- Highest percentage of women faculty (24%), women graduate students (28%) and women undergraduate students (30%); Highest percentage of URM undergraduate students (24%)
- First of top 50 ranked US colleges of engineering in percentage of women faculty
- Largest PhD enrollment (723), largest MS enrollment (472), and largest undergraduate enrollment (4673)
- Largest faculty size (229)
Other Major Accomplishments:
- Initiated the world’s first Post-Harvest Coffee Research Center with a gift from Peet’s Coffee to name the Coffee Roastery
- Fundraising led to naming and construction of new Engineering Student Design Center
- College achieved Bronze Level Award for the inaugural ASEE Diversity Recognition Program, including an exemplar status for best practice DEI programs
- Led the development of a college strategic plan with a “bottom up” methodology following the process outlined in the book “Collaborative Strategic Planning in Higher Education”. Led the implementation plan with an ‘owner’ for each goal, an action plan with metrics, and a yearly progress update.
- Hired over 55 new engineering faculty, resulting in net growth of 31 college faculty
- Six faculty elected to the National Academy of Engineering
- Increased support for large, multi-disciplinary proposals resulting in several $10M+ new research centers led by UC Davis engineering faculty: Pavement Research Center (Caltrans); Space Technology Research Institute (NASA); Autonomous Vehicles (US DoT); Advanced Highway Maintenance (Caltrans); AI Institute for Food Systems (NSF); Spinal Cord Injury (DARPA); five-year renewal of NSF-Engineering Research Center in Bio-Inspired Geotechnics
- Initiated an alumni/student mentoring program via partnership with Mentor Collective which pairs first year students and transfer students with practicing alumni engineers
- Piloted a first-year “Engineering Design and Communications” course in 2015; this project-based course now serves over 700 students
- Scaled-up the campus-wide undergraduate entrepreneurship activities of the Student Startup Center (SSC) which now engages more students outside of engineering than within engineering. The SSC now offers a campus-wide Undergraduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship and an entry-level “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” course every quarter
- Hosted a National Academy of Engineering meeting (Frontiers of Engineering Research Symposium) in Fall 2017; Secured hosting of a NAE Regional Meeting in 2022.
- Revitalized the College Distinguished Lectureship including national mailing/visibility of the speakers (three per year) who are all top international leaders in engineering
- Created a new COE Office of Laboratory Safety, with a Director that complements EH&S while reporting to the Dean of Engineering. Installed panic buttons in all department and college advisor offices, more AEDs, monthly safety seminars and other safety activities to engage all stakeholders.
- Created “Engineering Weekly” – an electronic internal newsletter which is emailed out to all engineering faculty and staff on a weekly basis
- Increased Facilities staff and added an Associate Dean for Facilities as the facilities area was consistently noted as needing improvement based on a college-wide SWOT analysis
- Added a Faculty Assistant to the Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion position to the college’s leadership team.
- Worked with the Provost’s Office to initiate an Engineering Transfer Pathways Program (“Avenue-E”) to increase the pipeline of underserved students to UC Davis from community colleges. Donations from the Koret Foundation and Chevron support this program.
- Initiated Dean’s Advisory Groups for staff and for graduate students and a quarterly Town Hall for college staff/leadership engagement
- Initiated annual college-wide staff recognition awards, annual college-wide graduate student awards, and annual departmental teaching and teaching assistant awards to complement existing annual college-wide faculty awards
- Initiated annual ‘Celebrating Faculty Excellence’ event to honor faculty who have received major external awards and recognition.
- Initiated a college research grant program to seed new interdisciplinary research
- Initiated incentives for departments to host more external seminar speakers
- Initiated the “Engineering Ambassadors” program – a group of about 20 undergraduate students who assist with undergraduate recruiting, engineering tours, outreach and alumni events in the college
- Split the combined Chemical and Material Science Engineering Department into two separate departments
- Developed unit budgets for the college to allow for better fiscal oversight and reduce administrative support. An independent consultant (Ernst & Young) determined that the College of Engineering was the most fiscally transparent of all the colleges at UC Davis and the only college to achieve a perfect score in fiscal transparency.
Associate Dean for Research and Facilities, College of Engineering, University of Florida (2012-2015)
The Associate Dean for Research and Facilities supports all faculty and other researchers within the College of Engineering (COE) in developing and maintaining internationally recognized research programs while ensuring that programs and activities remain compliant with all federal, state, local and university requirements. The Associate Dean assists the faculty in the submission of multi-investigator and multi-disciplinary proposals and interfaces with research sponsors and funding entities. The Associate Dean is responsible for over 40 buildings and almost 600,000 square feet of engineering research and teaching space, including a Research and Engineering Education facility located adjacent to Eglin Air Force Base in western Florida. The Associate Dean is responsible for research oversight, lab and facilities allocation, and safety management within the UF College of Engineering. The Associate Dean coordinates the activities of the College of Engineering Research Institutes and supports and reviews the activities of all College of Engineering Research Centers, including meeting cost sharing and research space needs. The Associate Dean serves as a liaison for the college with the UF Division of Sponsored Programs and the UF Office of Technology Licensing. The Associate Dean is also responsible for export control recommendations for College of Engineering research awards, disclosure of outside activities, resolution of conflict of interest issues, and limited proposal submissions for the college.
Six units report directly to the Associate Dean for Research and Facilities with a combined annual budget of over $5 million and involving approximately 40 faculty and staff:
- College of Engineering’s Shared User Research Facilities (also known as the college’s Research Service Centers)
- Nanoscale Research Facility
- Major Analytical Instrumentation Center
- Particle Analysis Instrumentation Center
- Office of Industrial Programs
- Laboratory Safety Office
- Florida state-wide Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management
- UF Nuclear Training Reactor
- General Services and Facilities Office for the College of Engineering
- Significant (30%) increase in research awards due to increase in number of large awards and preeminent faculty hires
- Created a new COE Office of Laboratory Safety, with a Director that complements EH&S while reporting to the Associate Dean for Research and Facilities
- Supported and helped coordinate (along with the PI and the Assistant Vice President for Proposal Development) a successful site visit leading to the receipt of a DOE-PSAAP II Center award
- Streamlined research contract processes in collaboration with a newly formed Operations Advisory Committee within the college
- Implemented new fee structures for the college’s Shared User Research Facilities resulting in increased users and revenue
- Secured UF membership in GUIRR with Harris Corporation as UF’s partner
- Transitioned the Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management back to campus, resulting in significant cost savings and increased college oversight
- Initiated new, annual, college-wide Ohanian honorary seminar series
- Held research workshops targeted at proposal development for submissions to specific RFPs and funding agencies (five workshops per year on varying topics)
- Conducted compliance training sessions for all engineering faculty
- Improved communication with engineering faculty via regular, open-forum lunch discussions and weekly e-mail announcements
Director of the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) (2013-2015)
The Florida Energy Systems Consortium, administered at the University of Florida, was created by Florida government statute to promote collaboration among the state’s 12 public universities and conduct energy research, energy education (including at community colleges and for industry), and energy technology commercialization. FESC also disseminates information to the Florida public through Fact Sheets, the FESC web site, and other training and outreach activities. Florida is the only state with a statewide energy consortium involving all of its universities. The consortium assists the state in the development and implementation of an environmentally compatible, sustainable, and efficient energy plan. The Consortium reports to the Executive Office of the Governor through Florida’s Office of Energy which is a part of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FLDACS). The FESC Director manages a budget of over $2 million and reports to the UF Vice President of Research.
- Prepared collaborative statewide energy proposals to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services based on input from all statewide energy faculty and the Florida Office of Energy. Presented proposal to state legislators and other state government entities.
- Received $350,000 for fiscal year 2013-2014, received $450,000 for fiscal year 2014-2015, and Commissioner of FLDACS approved a recurring budget starting in fiscal year 2015-2016 of $2,500,000 and increasing to $5,000,000 in five years.
- Secured support for these statewide energy proposals from all university Vice Presidents for Research in the state
- Secured lobby support for these statewide energy proposals from all university lobbyists in the state
- Reinvigorated FESC Industrial Advisory Board with addition of new Board members and appointment of an Advisory Board Chair
- Signed a MOU with BioFuelNet (BFN) Canada, a national organization in that country similar in mission/scope to FESC
- Organized and conducted a statewide energy research meetings in May 2014 (over 200 participants), February 2015 (over 100 participants), May 2015 (over 150 participants), meeting of all statewide university vice presidents for research in November 2013, and an industrial energy workshop in August 2014 (over 40 participants).
Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Florida, (2005-2009)
The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Florida is a nationally recognized program which is consistently among the top 10 U.S. producers of BS and PhD chemical engineering graduates annually. The Chair provides leadership and management for 22 tenure-track faculty, one research faculty, 12 permanent staff, over 400 undergraduate students, and 100 graduate students. The Department of Chemical Engineering has an annual budget in excess of $10 million (including salaries, expenditures and operations).
- Increased US News and World Report graduate program ranking from 25th to 20th nationally, achieving an all-time high for the department
- Increased PhD production to an all-time high for the department. Third nationally in the number of PhD students graduated – behind only MIT and University of Texas (December 15, 2008 issue, Chemical & Engineering News)
- Increased US New and World Report undergraduate program ranking to 20th nationally, achieving an all-time high for the department
- Raised $3.2 million for a building addition to the existing Chemical Engineering Building
- For 2005-2009, ranked as the #1 UF PhD program (out of 57 UF PhD programs) by the UF Graduate School (ranking based on a wide range of factors including retention, diversity, placement, applicant number and quality, number of PhDs per faculty member, PhDs awarded)
- Successfully recruited six new tenure-track faculty members (new lines, not replacement lines) in the first two years as department chair
- Significantly improved alumni relations through the establishment of fall and spring alumni open house events, as well as an annual alumni reunion event
- Established new undergraduate minor in Biomolecular Engineering, new department safety course, and undergraduate Unit Operations Laboratory was improved and expanded.
- Established industrial seminar series for chemical engineering undergraduates
- Passed ABET accreditation review in 2006 with no concerns or weaknesses
- Led the submission of two faculty nominations (and subsequent awards) of university-wide recognition as Distinguished Professor
- Led the submission of two faculty nominations (and subsequent awards) of university-wide recognition as Distinguished Teaching Scholar
- Expanded the composition of the Chemical Engineering Advisory Board to include representation from the top employers of UF chemical engineering graduates. Increased the diversity of the Board. These efforts resulting in tripling the number of African Americans (from 1 to 3) and increasing the number of women (from 1 to 5). Increased the frequency of meetings from annual to biannual.
- Led efforts to increase significantly the visibility of the department among academic peers by expanding and nationally advertising the research seminar program and initiating the Shah Annual Lectureship in Surface Science. These efforts also included initiating an annual department dinner at the national AIChE meeting for approximately 100 “who’s who” chemical engineering faculty nationwide. At this dinner, a short presentation was given summarizing faculty research awards in the department over the past year.
- Established ChemE Day, an annual career and networking day for the department. This event brings industry and all chemical engineering students (freshman through PhD) together. Industrial representatives pay a fee to participate. Proceeds from this event, along with other industry donations, enabled significant renovations in the department’s Unit Operations Laboratory
- Led the development of a department strategic plan for 2009-2011 to move the department forward during a challenging economic climate.
Head, Department of Freshman Engineering, Purdue University (2000-2003)
The mission of the Department of Freshman Engineering at Purdue University was to recruit, advise, conduct orientation and transition programs, teach, and otherwise support first-year engineering students. The Head provided leadership for 8 tenure-track faculty and 11 permanent staff, and over 2200 undergraduate students. From 2000-2003, the Department of Freshman Engineering was one of fewer than five such engineering departments in the country. The new Department of Engineering Education, one of only two such departments in the country, has replaced the former Department of Freshman Engineering and now also offers MS and PhD degrees in engineering education.
- Significantly improved department operations by developing clear roles and accountabilities for faculty and staff
- Dramatically reduced annual staff turnover by improving department operations, creating both awareness and involvement of staff in professional development opportunities, and implementing policies to promote a more professional work environment
- Expanded Freshman Engineering Advisory Board and transitioned the Board to a contributory board at a $5K per year level
- Recruited one tenure-track faculty member who later received one of the first NSF Career Awards for research in engineering education
- Initiated a new seminar course for mentoring freshman students that was planned and managed by the Purdue Student Engineering Foundation
- Created both residential and academic learning communities for freshman engineering students
- Revised timing for awarding Freshman Honors scholarships
- Initiated monthly newsletter for parents of freshman engineers
- Improved integration of freshman engineering department activities with the professional schools via newsletters and regular meetings of freshman engineering and professional school academic advisors
Associate Dean of Engineering, Purdue University (2002-2003)
The Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education in the College of Engineering at Purdue University was responsible for all activities in the Department of Freshman Engineering (involving 2200 undergraduate students), the Department of Interdisciplinary Engineering, the Women in Engineering Program, the Minority Engineering Program, Engineering Scholarships, and the university-wide Co-operative Education Program. These departments and programs consisted of 9 tenure-track faculty and over 30 staff. Currently, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education and the Head of the Department of Engineering Education are two separate administrative positions rather than one position.
- Led major strategic planning effort that resulted in the transition of the Department of Freshman Engineering to the Department of Engineering Education – the first in the country to offer MS and PhD degrees in Engineering Education
- Significantly improved working relationship with university admissions to better meet revised student enrollment targets
- Led or played a major role in changing leadership of the university-wide Co-operative Education Program, the Minority Engineering Program, and the Women in Engineering Program
- Increased number of engineering scholarships and timing of scholarship offers
- Initiated new recruitment programs for women engineering students – including a program allowing student applications for admission to be processed while students are visiting campus