Two positions that play a key role in the daily operation and future direction of the University of Kansas School of Engineering have new leadership. EECS Professor Arvin Agah has been named associate dean for research and graduate programs and Kyle Camarda is the new associate dean of undergraduate programs. Both men assumed their new roles early in the 2012-2013 semester.
Dr. Agah joined the KU faculty in 1997. As associate dean for research and graduate programs he will provide support and resources to enhance research productivity, scholarly activities and graduate education, and will oversee the development, maintenance, review and improvement of graduate degree programs. His efforts will be guided by Bold Aspirations, KU’s strategic plan.
Dr. Agah said he’s been meeting with department chairs and graduate directors and reviewing data from the past decade to identify areas of growth and – along with top leadership at the School of Engineering – map out a plan for the next few years. He is identifying peer institutions for the KU School of Engineering in order to determine KU’s current tier and identify what it would take to move KU to greater prominence. Among the biggest opportunities – and challenges – he faces in his new role is recruitment and retention of graduate students – in terms of quality and quantity.
“We’re working to identify colleges within a day’s travel from Lawrence that do not have graduate programs and make funding available for representatives from our engineering departments to visit these schools and show the great opportunities that KU has to offer,” Dr. Agah said.
Another option being considered for boosting graduate school enrollment is enhancing the awards offered to potential students.
“The school offers a number of excellent scholarships and fellowships. We’d like to try to make those offers more attractive,” Dr. Agah said.
Dr. Agah has initiated a mentoring program for the assistant professors at the school level, augmenting the current mentoring that is taking place at the departmental level.
Dr. Agah plans to remain active in the classroom and in his research so he can continue to interact with students and keep in tune with their needs.
“With more than 15 years of experience at KU, Dr. Agah’s particular track record of success in teaching, research and service makes him an exceptional choice to lead this effort,” said Interim Dean Rolfe.
Dr. Camarda, an associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, joined the KU faculty in 1999. As associate dean of undergraduate programs, his responsibilities include overseeing undergraduate admission, recruitment and retention, advising Engineering Student Council and heading undergraduate probation and suspension.
With School of Engineering enrollment at record levels and projected to continue rising, Dr. Camarda said his primary goal is to keep the momentum going.
“We have a great staff that has been responsible for this success, and I want to ensure that continues. My goal is to see that the staff has the tools and resources it needs to succeed and that we do what we can to remain a top choice for the best high school students.”
In the near term, Dr. Camarda said he wants to ensure students in the School of Engineering are able to meet the requirements of the KU Core Curriculum — a plan to standardize general education outcomes across the university — without increasing course loads.
“The Core Curriculum certainly has advantages that will serve KU students well. Because all curricula in engineering follow a proscribed path to ensure they meet accreditation requirements, my goal will be to identify how our courses provide students with the outcomes outlined at the university level and do it without slowing down students with additional courses.” Several engineering undergraduate degrees already require students complete more than 130 credit hours.
Dr. Camarda will scale back his classroom duties, but intends to teach an introduction to engineering course for undecided students each year and a course in optimization of chemical systems every two years. He plans to maintain his research efforts in systems engineering – which uses mathematics to create computer models of new molecules that are used in specific projects for researchers in a wide range of disciplines.
“Dr. Camarda brings a blend of experience, action and liveliness that will serve the school well,” said Stan Rolfe, interim dean of engineering. “He has the skills and energy to address the tasks associated with this role.”