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Robert Clark named 10th University provost

October 15, 2015
Robert Clark

Robert Clark

University President and CEO Joel Seligman announced today that Robert Clark, senior vice president for research at the University of Rochester and dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has been named the University’s 10th provost. Clark’s five-year term as provost has been approved by the Board of Trustees and begins on July 1, 2016.

Clark succeeds Peter Lennie, who will step down as provost in June 2016. Clark will serve in dual roles as provost and senior vice president for research. In 2013, he was named senior vice president for research and since then has served both in this role and as Hajim School dean, a position he has held for the past seven years. He will be stepping down as Hajim School dean.

“Both as senior vice president for research and dean of the Hajim School, Rob’s service has been exemplary,” said Seligman.  “During the past seven years under Rob’s leadership, the Hajim School has more than doubled undergraduate enrollment while increasing the size of the faculty and significantly increasing the number of students enrolled in master’s programs.  At the start of Rob’s time as dean, the Hajim School assumed responsibility for computer science.  In 2014, Rettner Hall became operational, including a new fabrication facility, computer labs and audio and video recording studios.  Wegmans Hall, which will house the Goergen Institute for Data Science, is now under construction and will be dedicated in October 2016.”

“I know I speak for the entire board in saying that Rob Clark is enthusiastically endorsed to be the University’s next provost,” said Ed Hajim, chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees. “He has long experience in building and bolstering academic and research programs, and he is a very distinguished teacher and researcher, as well. As Hajim School dean, Rob has done an unbelievable job, significantly strengthening the academic quality of the school in a number of strategic areas, and thus increasing both the number and quality of students coming to study at Rochester. All of these attributes and successes translate extremely well into becoming the University’s next chief academic officer.”

“Serving as the 10th provost at the University of Rochester is both an honor and a privilege.  Every domain of this institution embodies our motto, Meliora, and each day I walk across this campus, I join students, faculty, and staff in pursuit of making the University better today than the day before.  I have nearly nine months to spend with many university constituents and our current provost, Peter Lennie, to plan for this transition.  During this time, I look forward to learning from our University community what I can do to further enable our mission and advance the momentum and trajectory of this great institution.”

As provost, Clark will assume responsibility for advancing the University’s academic, teaching and global engagement missions, in addition to accelerating the University’s progress as an internationally distinguished research institution. The provost additionally provides leadership to select units of the University, including Information Technology, River Campus Libraries, the Memorial Art Gallery, the University of Rochester Press, and the University Health Service.

Clark was named interim senior vice president for research in 2012, and accepted the permanent role a year later. The senior vice president of research oversees a portfolio of programs and units—as well as the University-wide collaboration—that make up the research enterprise, including the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, the Sponsored University Research Group, Office of Research Projects Administration, Center for Entrepreneurship, Office of Research Alliances, Office of Human Subjects Protection/Research Subjects Review Board, the URVentures, and the University’s Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation (HSCCI). Additionally, the senior vice president manages the University’s online academic initiatives and the research component of information technology.

As senior vice president for research, Clark has orchestrated a comprehensive review of information technology, supervised efforts to pilot online programs, and helped secure $5 million of support for the HSCCI through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. He was instrumental in bringing to the University the Visualization-Innovation-Science-Technology-Application (VISTA) Collaboratory lab, with support from New York State and IBM. The VISTA lab is part of the HSCCI and is a critical asset in the University’s infrastructure for becoming a leader in the field of data science.

Most recently, Clark has been recognized for his critical role in Rochester becoming the headquarters for the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), a consortium of universities, companies, and federal agencies joined together for the development of optics-based manufacturing technologies. Rochester was selected to receive this designation and $600 million in federal and state funding based on a winning proposal submitted to the Department of Defense;  Clark served as lead coordinator for  the University of Rochester team that created that proposal. He also manages the University’s leadership role with AIM Photonics and now serves as chairman of the nonprofit institute’s board of directors.

As Hajim School dean since 2008, Clark has grown and strengthened the faculty, and introduced cross-disciplinary master’s programs, including the MS in technical entrepreneurship and management in collaboration with the Simon Business School. He also established a Center for Medical Technology Innovation jointly with the School of Medicine and Dentistry with an MS program in biomedical engineering that provides two months of clinical experience for students.

During Clark’s deanship, the school’s undergraduate enrollment has increased from 747 students in the 2008–09 academic year to 1,543 in the 2014–15 year. At the same time, the test scores of admitted students also increased.

He also successfully led Hajim’s ABET accreditation efforts in 2009, and has provided key leadership in the school’s 2016 fundraising campaign goal, which was achieved, ahead of schedule in March of 2015.

Clark joined the University in 2008 from Duke University, after serving as senior associate dean and dean of the Pratt School of Engineering. His expertise in the science of acoustics and in bionanomanufacturing has led to 130 journal publications and earned him awards including the Lindsey Award of the Acoustical Society of America, the National Science Foundation Career Program Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the NASA Group Achievement Award. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Acoustical Society of America, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

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