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The Presidentīs Club

By J.J. Thompson

Only an engineer would begin his reign as university chancellor with this challenge: "Can the University of Arkansas stop acting like a weedeater and start acting like a cultivator? Can the University of Arkansas stop acting like a filter and start acting like a pump? Yes, we can."

That was the charge from John White, former Georgia Tech engineering dean, when he took the helm of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville campus in 1997. "I am finding that my engineering background is helping me do my job, which involves daily resource allocation and economic trade-off decisions," White says.

The nature of their training may be why more than a few academic engineers occupy the president's or chancellor's office at universities across the country.

For example, Martin Jischke-a fluid dynamicist with expertise in heat transfer, fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, and problems related to high-speed aircraft and spacecraft-is serving his eighth year as president of Iowa State University, where he is lauded for significantly improving the school's undergraduate programs and expanding its research programs.

Here is a sampling of other engineers who have assumed the top post at colleges and universities:
 

  • George Ansell is former president of the Colorado School of Mines.
  • Lionel Baldwin is former president of National Technological University.
  • Theodore Bickart is president of the Colorado School of Mines.
  • Ray Bowen is president of Texas A&M University.
  • Albert Carnesale is chancellor of the University of California at Los Angeles.
  • G. Wayne Clough is president of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • James Duderstadt is president emeritus of the University of Michigan.
  • Robert R. Furgason is president of Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi
  • Richard J. Gowen is president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
  • James John is president of Kettering University.
  • Vik J. Kapoor is president of the University of Toledo.
  • Peter Likins is president of the University of Arizona.
  • Modesto Maisique is president of Florida International University
  • Richard Miller will be the founding president of the F.W. Olin College of Engineering.
  • Larry Monteith is former chancellor at North Carolina State University.
  • Dan Mote is president of the University of Maryland at College Park.
  • Constantine Papadakis is president of Drexel University.
  • Edward A. Parrish is president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Daniel Reneau is president of  Louisiana Tech University.
  • Steven B. Sample is president of the University of Southern California
  • Charles A. Sorber is president of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
  • James J. Stukel is president of the University of Illinois.
  • Chang-Lin Tien is former chancellor of UC Berkeley.
  • Curtis Tompkins is president of Michigan Technological University.
  • Paul Torgersen is president of Virginia Tech.
  • Charles Vest is president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • James Woodward is chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  • Henry T. Yang is chancellor of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

 

Are there more college presidents with engineering degrees? If you know of anyone we've missed, e-mail us at prism@asee.org.

J.J. Thompson is a freelance writer in Little Rock, Arkansas



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