SEAS set to pick new dean in May

The School of Engineering and Applied Science has received more than 40 applications for the school’s top position, and it plans to choose a replacement for Dean Timothy Tong by the end of May, members of the search committee said.

Tong resigned suddenly in November after eight years of service without giving a public reason for stepping down. He plans to join the faculty as a professor in the fall.

“We want someone who is a good leader, a good manager, has a high level of academic experience as well as a vision of where SEAS ought to be going,” said Murray Loew, an engineering professor and a member of the search committee.

SEAS contracted a search firm, created a search team and placed an advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education as well as other publications. The search committee is composed of faculty, administrators, two student representatives, a representative from the SEAS National Advisory Council and a member of the search firm, Academic Search Inc.

Academic Search Inc. is the same search firm that was used to find and hire University President Steven Knapp. The first round of interviews for dean candidates will be confidential, off-campus interviews in a secret location, said Abdou Youssef, chair of SEAS dean search committee and an engineering professor. The list of candidates will then be narrowed down to five or six people, who will come to campus for public two-day interviews.

“Ideally the new dean should be in place for the start of the fiscal year,” said Vishal Aswani, a junior in SEAS and an SA presidential candidate. “It would be the perfect opportunity for him to understand the fiscal aspects of SEAS and, it would give him more than enough time to get acclimated to the academic rigors that is the school of engineering and GW.”

The engineering school has faced budgetary constraints in recent years as a result of declining undergraduate enrollment numbers, and a decrease in the number of research grants the school receives from outside sources. Currently there are 530 undergraduates and 2,022 graduates enrolled in SEAS. The school is also known for its outdated and dilapidated facilities.

Charles Garris, an engineering professor, said Tong unfairly took much of the blame for the school’s current state.

“Everyone has complained at one time or another,” Garris said. “But that’s the job of a dean. It’s a thankless job. The dean did the best he could and it’s not all his fault that things didn’t work out.”

“(Being dean) is not a joyful job,” Garris continued. “You’re between a rock and a hard place. The faculty are very demanding and the administration is very demanding. It’s not the most joyful job.”

Students and faculty have also said that Knapp may have a different vision for the school than the one Tong is currently carrying out.

“What I’ve heard made it sound like it’s typical for deans to leave the school when new presidents come into the school,” said David Rosenberg, a junior in the engineering school.

The annual SEAS ball, which took place at the Ronald Reagan Center last week, was held in Tong’s honor.

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