Ned Thomas will complete his service as dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering at the end of the 2016-17 academic year and return to the Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering as a full-time faculty member.
“President David Leebron and I are extremely grateful for Ned’s leadership and many accomplishments since becoming dean in July 2011,” Provost Marie Lynn Miranda said. “His contributions have benefited not just the Brown School of Engineering, but the whole university. Ned is singularly focused on excellence and unabashedly ambitious for the Brown School of Engineering, and we know that he will continue to be fully engaged in leading the school with his characteristic high energy during the coming year.”
In a letter to the faculty, Miranda noted a number of Thomas’ key accomplishments: quality recruitment and hiring, as well as thoughtful promotion and tenuring, of many talented and remarkable faculty; creation of the engineering advisory board; startup of the Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) center; key support in establishing the Systems, Synthetics and Physical Biology interdisciplinary Ph.D. program; and growth in Ph.D. student enrollment, undergraduate course enrollment and the number of majors offered within the school. Women now earn more than 30 percent of the engineering graduate degrees at Rice, compared with the national average of about 23 percent. During Thomas’ years as dean, Rice installed one of the most powerful scanning/transmission electron microscopes in the country, the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen underwent renovation for expansion twice and the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership was among the first to offer an engineering leadership certificate.
A national search for the next dean of engineering will begin soon, Miranda said.