The head of mechanical engineering at the University of Alabama will lead Kansas University's School of Engineering, officials announced Friday.
Stuart R. Bell will begin his duties Aug. 1 at KU, replacing Carl Locke, who has served 16 years in the position.
During Bell's tenure as chairman of Alabama's mechanical engineering department, which began in 1995, the department's research funding has increased to eight times its previous level. Bell also established Alabama's Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies in 1998.
"With my background here in terms of building a program in the department, I want to use that to build programs at the school level," Bell said. "This is sort of the natural progression for me to be moving into that type of position."
Bell, 45, will be paid $190,000 per year. Locke's current salary is $146,000.
Bell, a native of Abilene, Tex., received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University.
The School of Engineering at University of Alabama, where Bell has taught since 1986, has about 100 faculty members, roughly the same as KU's School of Engineering. Alabama has about 1,850 engineering students, 100 fewer than KU.
Bell said the new engineering building under construction south of Learned Hall helped attract him to KU. The $15 million building is funded through private donations.
"That's a real testimony to the alumni and friends of the college," he said.
Bell said he planned to meet with faculty and staff at KU before he begins work in Lawrence. He said he didn't foresee any immediate changes to the school.
"The undergraduate programs are very strong," he said. "A lot has been invested in those on both the administration and faculty. Where I see the growth areas are the research and graduate areas."