Completing the Dream Team
By Joel Seligman
Our School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is celebrating this year its 50th anniversary. It was recently given another reason to celebrate with the appointment of its seventh dean, Robert Clark, who joins us from Duke University, where he has for the past year served as dean of their Pratt School of Engineering. And our School of Nursing, which has been a leader in nursing education for more than 80 years, is equally fortunate to have appointed this summer its new dean, Kathy Parker, who comes to us from Emory University.
Kathy was appointed by Medical Center CEO Brad Berk on the recommendation of a search committee headed by our Provost Ralph Kuncl. She inherits a school that is consistently recognized as among the country’s best. It established the first nurse-practitioner program in the nation, pioneered the unification model of education that connects the classroom to real-world experience, and is among the leading recipients of National Institutes of Health research funding. Under former dean Pat Chiverton, the school instituted new programs and built the new Loretta Ford Education Wing, and it quadrupled its research funding, including a $6.5 million grant this summer—the largest in the school’s history.
A nationally recognized researcher of sleep disorders with more than 100 publications to her credit, Kathy has served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. She is also one of only five nurses in the country certified in Clinical Sleep Disorders and was recently elected a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and of the American Academy of Nursing. Her sterling record as a clinician, educator, and researcher, as well as her compassion, warmth, and leadership skills, makes her the ideal choice to lead the school to new achievements, innovation, and prominence.
Robert Clark is the newest member of Dean Peter Lennie’s outstanding senior leadership team. As the new dean of engineering, Rob inherits a school that has developed increasing distinction under its previous dean, Kevin Parker.
Under Kevin’s leadership during the past 10 years, the school has increased its faculty size by nearly 20 percent, built its dedicated endowment to $60 million from $10 million, and moved up in the U.S. News & World Report rankings to 30th, from 50th. It has also added eight new endowed professorships, worked with the School of Medicine and Dentistry to create the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and in 2007 dedicated the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics.
Rob is well prepared to lead the school to still greater accomplishments. His research in acoustics and bionanomanufacturing resulted in 100 journal publications, and earned him awards including the Lindsay Award of the Acoustical Society of America, the National Science Foundation Career Program Award, and the NASA Group Achievement Award. He has also been elected a fellow of both the Acoustical Society of America and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. In his six years as associate dean at Duke and most recently in his year as dean, he helped increase fundraising, helped to double the number of women on the faculty and triple the research expenditures, initiated curricular innovations for nonengineering students, and oversaw the implementation of the school’s strategic plan.
That experience will be vital as he leads the school in its crucial work to support the College’s strategic plan. As enunciated by Peter Lennie and his colleagues, and with the support of the trustees, that plan is designed “to secure prominence as one of the world’s finest schools of arts, sciences, and engineering.”
We will achieve that by attracting outstanding faculty members and students through, among other things, unrivaled new signature programs in biomedical engineering, nanoscience for medicine, and alternative energy. These programs will be much stronger thanks to collaborations between engineering and other parts of the University, including especially the Medical Center.
Most fundamentally, however, our success depends on the distinction of our faculty. With the arrival of Kathy and Rob, we have two great additional reasons to celebrate, and to expect a coming half century even more accomplished than the last.