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Experienced Leader James H. Aylor To Head University Of Virginia’s School Of Engineering And Applied Science

July 19, 2005 -- University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III today announced the promotion of interim Dean James H. Aylor to dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and tasked him with leading the school into a new era of growth in research and education.

Noting that the University has targeted progress in science and technology as a major institutional priority, Casteen said, “These are challenging times, and there are tremendous rewards for the institutions that get it right.

“Jim's year as the interim dean has been a productive and positive one. As dean during the next five years, his priorities will be to expand the school's enrollment in order to meet demand for admission, to identify and secure new sources of support to offset the radical decline in state tax support that occurred in 2003 and has been only minimally restored, while building research programs, including both gifted faculty members and facilities suitable to the critical work they do. Jim's commitments to the University's ethical standards and to its philosophy of equity and diversity in its faculty, staff and student body make him a particularly promising new dean.”

Currently the Louis T. Rader Professor, Aylor, 59, chaired U.Va.’s Electrical Engineering Department from 1996 until 2003, when he became associate dean of academic programs. He was named interim dean in July 2004, upon the retirement of Richard Miksad.

“Jim Aylor has a deep commitment to U.Va. and extensive experience at the Engineering School,” said Gene Block, the University’s vice president and provost. “I look forward to working with him in our efforts to significantly enhance our capabilities in science and engineering.”

“My overarching goal is to work with the University administration and the faculty of the school to place the Engineering School as a top-20 school, as rated by U.S. News & World Report,” Aylor said. To get there, he will seek to hire 25 to 30 more tenure-track faculty and another 25 research faculty, and greatly expand collaborations with other parts of the University. He will also seek to review and update a schoolwide strategic plan adopted four years ago.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science — founded in 1836 as one of the nation’s first three engineering programs — is the second-largest at U.Va., with an enrollment of 1,993 undergraduates and 654 graduate students. It offers 10 undergraduate majors and advanced degrees in 10 concentrations. There are 175 full-time instructional and research faculty and 50 full-time research professionals, bolstered by a $57 million endowment.

Next spring, the school will open the new 99,000-square-foot, five-story Wilsdorf Hall, to house the school’s burgeoning nanoscience and engineering programs. Plans are on the books to build additional facilities for information technology and bioengineering.

During Aylor's tenure as interim dean, significant steps were taken to advance the Engineering School, including the naming of the electrical and computer engineering department in acknowledgement of a gift from Ann Lee Brown in honor of her husband, the late Charles L. Brown. Aylor also helped establish the SEAS Trustees, combining the Virginia Engineering Foundation Board, which had fund-raising responsibilities, and the Dean's Advisory Council, an organization that worked with the previous dean on matters related to academics and strategic planning. The trustees advise the dean on issues related to strategic planning, development and promotion, and on academics, development, communications and finance. They also serve as the governing body of the Virginia Engineering Foundation, the school’s development organization. During his tenure as interim dean, the school improved eight places in the U.S. News & World Report ranking to its current position of 34th nationally.

“These are very exciting times,” Aylor said. “Unprecedented opportunities are in front of us, and with the support of the University, the SEAS Trustees, the foundation and our excellent faculty and staff, the Engineering School is in very good shape to move through the years ahead with our place assured as a top-quality institution of engineering education and research.”

Aylor has been an active researcher in the area of complex computer system design, including computer technology for healthy aging. He was instrumental in founding the Center for Semicustom Integrated Systems, which was established as one of the first Technology Development Centers of the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology under his leadership.

In 1993, Aylor served as president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Computer Society, and from 1994 to 1996 he served as a division director of IEEE. He is a fellow of the IEEE and past editor-in-chief of IEEE Computer, the flagship magazine that circulates to more than 100,000 IEEE members.  

Aylor, a Madison native and the son of a longtime U.Va. faculty member, has spent most of his adult life on Grounds. He earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University, in 1968, 1971 and 1977, respectively. He joined the faculty in 1978, where he has since remained, with the exception of a year spent as a visiting scientist at IBM Corp. in Manassas beginning in 1981.

“I tell people when they come to me for career advice that I’m not sure that I did much planning,” he quipped. “Opportunities have just come forward. The University has been very good to me.”

Contact: Dan Heuchert, (434) 924-7676

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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