Four finalists were announced on Friday for the deanship for the College of Engineering, bringing the University of Wisconsin closer to completing their search.
Chaired by James Rawlings, professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, a 16-person committee met to screen, evaluate and choose four candidates.
According to Rawlings, the process of picking four finalists began with a nomination. After this, individuals who were nominated were able to submit an application for evaluation, he added.
Rawlings said once the committee reviewed the applications, they invited a handful to the university for a brief interview. After the interview, the committee chose four candidates to present to Provost Paul DeLuca and Interim Chancellor David Ward.
The four finalists are Christopher Ober, Ramamoorthy Ramesh, William Wepfer and Ian Robertson.
Ober, professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University since 1986, expressed his excitement about the opportunity to hold the deanship at the College of Engineering.
Ober said he is currently a member of the graduate field of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry where he makes and studies new polymers. In addition, he said he works on experimental photoresists.
“It is through this area that I have met several of the faculty at Wisconsin and have come to appreciate them and the culture of excellence at your university,” Ober stated.
Ober said he is looking forward to learning more about the university, its faculty and its students.
Ramesh, Chair of Materials Science and Engineering and professor of physics at University of California-Berkeley, is involved in extensive work in materials science, steel structure, condensed matter science and the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, which promotes and advances solar energy.
Ramesh said he looks forward to possibly coming to Madison because he believes he can improve the existing engineering program due to the university’s potential and fantastic people.
“The expectations of what we want need to be different and much higher,” he said. “We should expect the best.”
William Wepfer, chair of the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said hopes he can come back to UW as a dean.
Since receiving his doctorate in mechanical engineering from UW, he has worked as a professor in the largest mechanical and nuclear engineering program, according to a UW statement.
Wepfer, born and raised in Wisconsin, said he looks forward to coming back to UW because the college is “outstanding.”
“It would be a great opportunity for me to give back and it would be a lot of fun,” Wepfer added.
The last finalist is Ian Robertson, director of the Division of Materials research at the National Science Foundation and Professor of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, according to the statement. Robertson was unable to return comment.
According to Rawlings, in the near future, each of the candidates will visit campus in order to make presentations in front of the entire university. However, the date the dean will be chosen remains unknown, he said.