Rutgers University has appointed Thomas Farris, currently head of Purdue University's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, as dean of the Rutgers School of Engineering. He replaces Michael Klein, who has returned to teaching and research.
Farris brings 23 years of academic experience in Purdue's College of Engineering, one of the nation's top engineering programs, to his new position. As head of aeronautics and astronautics since 1998, he presided over growth that more than doubled undergraduate and graduate student enrollment. The school last year awarded more undergraduate degrees to women than any of its peer aerospace programs and, under Farris' leadership, has increased the number of women on its faculty from one to five.
"Thomas Farris has impressive academic credentials as a scholar and teacher, and an excellent track record of leadership and service at Purdue," said Richard L. McCormick, president of Rutgers University. "His expertise, enthusiasm and energy make him the ideal person to move the Rutgers School of Engineering forward. We have ambitious goals for the school, and under Tom's leadership we expect it to grow in size and stature, increasing its enrollments and research funding, strengthening its ties with industry and expanding its contributions to the state of New Jersey."
Farris' research and professional contributions have been recognized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and several professional engineering societies. He served as co-principal investigator for an NSF Engineering Research Center in collaborative manufacturing in the 1990s. He later led a research team as part of an Air Force-sponsored metal fatigue project and was the only academic team leader among researchers from leading industrial and engineering firms.
His academic achievements include advising 22 engineers who completed doctoral degrees in engineering and receiving his school's outstanding undergraduate teacher award in 2008. He increased fundraising for the school from $1 million to $3 million annually and established an outstanding aerospace engineer alumni recognition program. Members of this program provided the bulk of the school's fundraising for the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, dedicated in 2007 and named after the astronaut and Purdue alumnus who was the first person to walk on the moon.
At Rutgers, Farris will apply his experience toward enhancing engineering teaching and research, increasing minority and female student and faculty representation, and developing closer ties with New Jersey's engineering companies to increase sponsored research and student internships. He also will work to increase federal research funding and donor gifts.
"I am honored by this appointment and excited about the opportunity to work with the outstanding school faculty and staff as well as the administration to make Rutgers engineering the best that it can be," Farris said. "Together we will provide the world-class student body the best possible educational and research experiences and engage Rutgers engineering constituents within New Jersey and beyond."
Instruction in engineering began at Rutgers in 1864, when the state of New Jersey designated the Rutgers Scientific School as the "State College for the Benefit of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts." The present School of Engineering became a separate entity in 1914. It has departments that cover aerospace, biochemical, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, industrial, materials, mechanical and systems engineering.
Established in 1766, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is America's eighth oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation's premier public research universities. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick, Rutgers offers more than 280 bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degree programs. The university is home to 27 degree-granting schools and colleges, and more than 150 specialized centers and institutes.