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Engineering school starts hiring search

The School of Engineering is implementing a major hiring initiative to find four faculty members and a founding dean.

The initiative is the first step in expanding and strengthening the engineering school, which was elevated from "division" status over the summer, said Rodney Clifton, dean of engineering.  

The positions became available when three engineering faculty members retired and one resigned, Clifton said, but the four openings are not restricted to the areas of engineering that those faculty members belonged to. Instead, the school is expanding the search process to all areas of engineering, such as biomedical, computer, materials science and entrepreneurship.  

"It gives you the chance to get truly outstanding candidates," Clifton said.  

For Iris Bahar, associate professor of engineering and head of the computer engineering search committee, the "important thing is to find a candidate who can expand our existing strengths."

There is a general search committee for the faculty positions as well as separate search committees for seven different areas of engineering, Clifton said.

Another board is tasked with finding a founding dean for the school. This position is an expansion of the role of the dean of engineering and will replace the existing position, Bahar said. The committee is employing the services of Baker and Associates, an executive search firm that specializes in academic hiring for high-level positions, she said. The committees are accepting applications as well as actively recruiting distinguished members of the engineering community.  

"A lot of faculty time is poured into this to get the best people," Clifton said.

Applications will be accepted through the end of this year, and the committees plan to review all the applications early next semester, Clifton said. The entire hiring process should be completed by the end of this academic year. The goal is to have the new faculty members start by next summer, Bahar said.  

The hiring initiative will have many positive effects on undergraduate students, Clifton said.  

Bahar agreed. "Having more faculty means more classes, more faculty to advise research projects (and) more diversity in general," she said.

The ratio of undergraduates to faculty will likely decrease, "leading to a richer, more diverse education for the undergraduate engineers," wrote Alexander Zaslavsky, professor of engineering and co-chair of the general faculty search committee, in an e-mail to The Herald.  

Emily Hsieh '12, an engineering concentrator, agreed that increased recognition of the engineering school will aid in graduate school admissions and job hunting. But she said she is unsure whether having more faculty members will add to the advising program.

"If you want to talk to a professor, there's always someone available. It's up to the student," she said.

The hiring of new faculty and a founding dean are just the beginning of a plan to increase the visibility of the school, Clifton said. There are also talks of a new building for engineering and the applied sciences, he said.  

Establishing a school of engineering also makes the University's engineering programs more competitive with other Ivy League institutions, which all have schools of engineering, Clifton said.  

"We want the world to know that there is a school of engineering at Brown," Clifton said.

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