KU down to 4 finalists in search for new dean for engineering school

photo by: Shawn Valverde/Special to the Journal-World

The University of Kansas campus is pictured in this aerial photo from September 2023 with the Campanile in the foreground.

The University of Kansas has announced four finalists vying to become the next dean of the School of Engineering.

KU leaders are nearing the end of a process to find a replacement for Dean Arvin Agah, whose five-year appointment as dean ends in December. Agah announced at the beginning of the year that he would not seek another term as dean, but instead would remain on the faculty and return to teaching and research in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

KU officials have hosted in-person visits with all four candidates, with the last occurring today. A selection could come in the next several weeks. Here’s a look at the four finalists.

photo by: Submitted

Mary Rezac

Mary Rezac is the dean of Washington State University’s College of Engineering and Architecture. In her dean position, which she has held since 2017, she has overseen seven academic schools, multiple research centers and a more than $80 million budget. She has also been a leader in developing a 10-year, $350 million capital building campaign.

During her tenure at Washington State, faculty research production has increased, new undergraduate programs have been developed, and the college has launched new initiatives to better retain undergraduate students and increase diversity among the student population.

Rezac previously worked at Kansas State University for 15 years, including serving as the co-director of its Center for Sustainable Energy and as chair of the school’s department of chemical engineering. Prior to K-State she was a chemical engineering faculty member at Georgia Tech.

Early in her career, Rezac worked in the private sector in the research and development division of Phillips Petroleum.

Rezac has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Kansas State and a master’s and doctorate, both in chemical engineering, from the University of Texas.

photo by: Submitted

Atul Kelkar

Atul Kelkar is a distinguished professor and department chair of mechanical engineering at Clemson University in South Carolina. Kelkar has been a co-founder and chief executive of five technology startup companies that have focused on smart materials and educational software.

Kelkar has expertise in the areas of intelligent manufacturing systems and is a steering committee member of the World Manufacturing Foundation. In addition to his experience at Clemson, he previously was a program director at the National Science Foundation, where he worked on projects related to manufacturing innovation. He also was on the faculty of the engineering school at Iowa State University, and early in his career was a member of the Kansas State University engineering faculty.

Kelkar has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pune in India and a master’s and doctorate, both in mechanical engineering, from Old Dominion University.

photo by: Submitted

Caroline Schauer

Caroline Schauer is the interim associate vice provost for faculty advancement at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She also holds an engineering chair position that was created for a faculty member who champions women, minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.

Schauer has held multiple leadership positions at Drexel, including the inaugural associate dean of faculty affairs, associate dean of research and faculty affairs and associate dean of research enterprise, all in the College of Engineering.

Schauer holds six patents and her work has been funded by a variety of organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Education.

She has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Beloit College and a master’s degree and doctorate, both in chemistry, from State University of New York at Stony Brook.

photo by: Submitted

Adrienne Minerick

Adrienne Minerick is a professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Technological University, which is a public research university in Houghton, Michigan, with about 7,000 students.

Additionally, Minerick holds an affiliated professorship in biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech. She previously has held multiple dean positions at Michigan Tech, including dean of the School of Technology, founding dean of the College of Computing and interim dean of the Pavlis Honors College.

She has also been recognized as a leader in faculty mentoring programs within the American Society for Engineering Education, including as a founder of the Safe Zone workshops that raise awareness for LGBTQ inclusion in STEM fields.

Minerick has expertise in electrokinetics, a developing technology that can be used to separate particles in ways that are useful in understanding the dynamics of blood cells. Minerick’s research has focused on ways to use the technology for new medical micro devices.

Minerick has a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Michigan Tech and graduate degrees from Notre Dame, including a master’s in chemical engineering and a doctorate in chemical and biomolecular engineering.


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