Committee searches for new dean

January 26, 2006

President Shirley M. Tilghman has appointed a committee to search for a new dean of engineering following the announcement in January that Dean Maria Klawe will leave Princeton to become president of Harvey Mudd College.

"This search comes at a time when the School of Engineering is on the path toward implementing a bold and exciting strategic plan that has the support of the engineering faculty and the University administration," Tilghman said. "It is important to preserve the school's positive momentum. I have accordingly asked the search committee to give special attention to candidates, such as current members of the Princeton faculty, who have a thorough understanding of and commitment to the school's strategic plan."

The search committee is chaired by Sharad Malik, the George Van Ness Lothrop Professor in Engineering. The eight other members are: Bonnie Bassler, professor of molecular biology; William Bialek, the John Archibald Wheeler/Battelle Professor in Physics; Claire Gmachl, associate professor of electrical engineering; Jeremy Kasdin, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Richard Register, professor of chemical engineering; Jennifer Rexford, professor of computer science; James Smith, professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Robert Vanderbei, professor and chair of operations research and financial engineering. Terri Harris Reed, associate provost for institutional equity, is providing staff support to the committee.

"The search committee is working hard to meet its charge of suggesting candidates who would be best suited to lead the school and build on our success," said Malik. "Our first step has been to seek a clear understanding of the challenges facing the school and the new dean. To help us with that we have gathered input from several groups: student representatives, faculty members within and outside the engineering school, administrators, as well as select advisors external to the University. This has helped shape the attributes we are looking for in the candidates."

The committee will recommend candidates to Tilghman, who will appoint the new dean, subject to approval of the Board of Trustees. Tilghman asked the committee to aim toward having a new dean in place by July 1, when Klawe assumes her new position at Harvey Mudd.

Tilghman praised Klawe for her record of accomplishments in the three years since she came to Princeton in January 2003. "We are very grateful to Maria for her leadership of the School of Engineering, and especially for creating and coordinating a strategic planning process that produced an exciting vision for the future of engineering at Princeton," Tilghman said. "The plan identifies as its highest priority the training of engineers who will become leaders, and builds on the core strengths of the engineering school while fostering a greater interplay with Princeton's traditional strengths in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. As we continue to carry out the plan she helped us develop for Princeton, we wish her every success in her new responsibilities at Harvey Mudd."

Klawe came to Princeton from the University of British Columbia where she had held positions as dean of science, vice president for student and academic services and chair of the Department of Computer Science. Klawe, who also worked eight years at the IBM Almaden Research Center, combines a wide range of research interests in mathematics and computer science. At Princeton, Klawe taught freshman calculus in addition to continuing a research project aimed at using computer technology to help people with a communication impairment called aphasia.

In announcing her decision to accept the presidency of Harvey Mudd, Klawe told faculty, students and staff, “This has been one of the most difficult decisions of my career, and one that I bring to you with mixed emotions. I am thrilled to be taking the leadership of a college that has been a pioneer and innovator in the teaching of science and engineering over the last 50 years. I also am very sad to leave Princeton where I have had the privilege of working with an incredibly talented, energetic and supportive group of people.”

Under Klawe’s leadership, the School of Engineering moved quickly to implement its strategic plan, including the creation of the Center for Innovation in Engineering Education. The center has introduced an alternative freshman curriculum and is fostering interdisciplinary learning, entrepreneurship and real-world engineering experience. In moving to Harvey Mudd, Klawe will lead a 50-year-old school that has become one of the nation’s leading engineering colleges and, like Princeton, emphasizes a rich interplay between science, engineering, the humanities and social sciences.