Professor Robert A. Brown, head of the Department of Chemical Engineering since 1988 and an expert in fluid mechanics, transport processes and numerical methods, has been appointed dean of the School of Engineering, Provost Joel Moses has announced. The appointment is effective January 15.
Professor Moses said the new dean "is a brilliant engineer who possesses amazing breadth of technical expertise and has shown himself to be an excellent leader of his department." Professor Brown's mentoring of junior faculty and his support of female faculty and the department's many female undergraduates "will be a great role model for the entire school," Professor Moses continued. "At a relatively young age [he is 44], Bob has already been elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His great interest in undergraduate and graduate engineering education should lead to significant changes in these programs in the coming years."
Dr. Brown, the Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering, fills the vacancy created when Professor Moses was appointed provost in June 1995. Professor John B. Vander Sande, associate dean of engineering, had been serving as acting dean in the interim.
"I want to thank John for his outstanding service as acting dean during the past six months," Professor Moses said. "He has handled the duties of Dean of Engineering in an exemplary fashion."
The school Professor Brown will head is MIT's largest. Its eight departments-aeronautics and astronautics, civil and environmental engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering and ocean engineering-are home to approximately 355 faculty members, just over one-third of the Institute's total faculty.
More than 60 percent of all undergraduate majors and about 45 percent of all graduate students are in the engineering school. Virtually all of the school's academic departments are ranked at the top of their respective fields. The School of Engineering has been ranked No. 1 in all six years of US News and World Report's survey of higher education.
Engineering has been at the core of the Institute's mission since its founding in 1861. The school's faculty has produced an outpouring of textbooks which have shaped engineering education across the nation. More than 100 members of the National Academy of Engineering have come from the ranks of MIT. More recently, the school has pioneered the development of the year-long Master of Engineering (MEng) degree programs, designed as terminal degrees with a strong focus on project work for students who plan to
enter industry. MEng programs are now offered by four of the school's departments.
Professor Brown received the BS (1974) and the MS (1975) degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, and the PhD (1979) from the University of Minnesota, all in chemical engineering. He joined the MIT faculty in 1980. In that year, and again in 1983, 1985 and 1988, the students of his department presented him with its Outstanding Faculty Award, and in 1985 he received the MIT Graduate Student Council Teaching Award. In 1984 he was awarded a Camile and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Grant and in 1986 the American Institute of Chemical Engineers presented him its Allan P. Colburn Award for Excellence in Publications.
In 1991 he was named one of the Outstanding Young Texas Exes, an award given by the Ex-Student's Association at the University of Texas at Austin to those who distinguish themselves in their profession before they are 40. The citation mentioned Professor Brown's work as codirector of the MIT Supercomputer Facility and his involvement as a founding member of the Consortium for Scientific Computing at MIT.