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Aylor's return to faculty prompts major replacement search

Provost says he expected various simultaneous searches


“If you look at other major R1 universities, I think you will find similar situations,” Executive Vice President and Provost John Simon said. “Bruner and Aylor made it clear to me when I came to U.Va. that they would not serve beyond their current terms, having completed two terms as dean.”

The University announced May 13 Engineering School Dean James Aylor will step down and return to his general faculty position following the end of his second term in 2015.

The move comes amid a number of visible changes to University leadership, with College Dean Meredith Woo, Architecture School Dean Kim Tanzer and Batten School Dean Harry Harding having announced their intent to step down at the end of their terms this summer. Former Gov. Gerald L. Baliles will also leave his position as director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at year’s end, while Darden School Dean Robert Bruner has said he also plans to leave at the end of his term next year.

“If you look at other major R1 universities, I think you will find similar situations,” Executive Vice President and Provost John Simon said. “Bruner and Aylor made it clear to me when I came to U.Va. that they would not serve beyond their current terms, having completed two terms as dean.”

R1 refers to “research 1” — a classification for universities which engage in high levels of research.

As the University seeks to fill their positions, Simon said University President Teresa Sullivan is working with all constituencies to develop a strategic plan for the University.

“This is a challenging time in higher education which presents many opportunities for U.Va.,” Simon said. “In seeking new deans, we look for individuals who value the objectives of the strategic plan.”

Computer science Prof. Emerita Anita Jones will chair the search for the new Engineering School dean. The search committee plans to consider both internal and external candidates.

“A committee will be announced in the next couple weeks,” Simon said. “I am looking for an accomplished engineer with outstanding leadership skills and a vision to enhance teaching and research in SEAS.”

One of the major roles of the new Engineering dean will be to fill positions vacated by a rising number of retiring faculty in the upcoming decade.

“This action requires tens of millions of dollars in start-up costs which must be raised,” said Prof. William C. Johnson, chair of the Materials Science and Engineering department. “In addition, the research infrastructure, used by a wide number of researchers, will need to be modernized.”

Under Aylor, the Engineering School established a long-term hiring plan, in addition to large-scale relationships with industries and an increased research footprint.

“Some of the models that Jim and [Assoc. Dean] Barry Johnson have created have attracted national attention and are being adopted by other states as models of public-private partnerships,” said Prof. Hossein Haj-Hariri, chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department.

Both Johnson and Haj-Hariri said part of Aylor’s legacy was bringing a school that has been underfunded for two decades toward a path of sustainability and growth.

“With the arrival of the Sullivan/Simon upper administration, Jim has been enabled to push through his long-term vision for the school, which is based on growth of size and increase of resources,” Haj-Hariri said. “He has put us on a path [where] we can grow the size and quality of the school.”


Published May 23, 2014 in News







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