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EG college changes leadership

Marcela Berrios | Monday, September 3, 2007

The College of Engineering is awaiting the arrival of its new dean and its new building, but while it may be in a period of transition, Interim Dean James Merz called the college’s future “brighter than ever before.”

University President Father John Jenkins announced in August the appointment of Peter Kilpatrick, the chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering at North Carolina State University, as the new dean of the College of Engineering.

Kilpatrick will replace former dean Frank Incropera and Merz in January.

“Peter Kilpatrick is an accomplished teacher and researcher who is a long-standing chair of one of the top chemical engineering departments in the country,” University Provost Thomas Burish said in a news release.

He was expected at Notre Dame in September, but previous commitments pushed Kilparick’s arrival back to January, prompting Burish to ask Merz to continue to serve as interim dean for another semester.

Merz, the former vice president for graduate studies and research, took office on August 1, 2006, after Incropera announced he would step down after eight years in the position to focus on his research and the classroom.

“I had been in academic administration for almost 20 years … and I was forced to

deemphasize scholarly and teaching activities,” Incropera said. “I decided it was time to focus on a smaller subset of activities.”

He said he will focus on long-standing interests such as energy conversion and utilization.

In his time as dean, Merz has worked closely with the engineering faculty to finalize the architectural design of the college’s new multidisciplinary home, Stinson-Remick Hall. Construction on the new building will begin in early 2008, Merz said.

He will also continue to oversee the recruitment of new faculty members to fill a number of open positions and endowed chairs.

Among the other changes the college underwent last year was the retirement of Associate Dean John Uhran, who joined the engineering faculty in 1966.

Many of his responsibilities passed to Cathy Pieronek, the director of academic affairs and the women’s engineering program. One year after Uhran’s departure, Merz commended Pieronek’s performance and said the college does not need to find a replacement in light of her accomplishments in her new position.