Dean of Engineering to return to faculty position

Elizabeth Worthington, Staff Writer

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At the end of the 2015-16 academic year, the current Dean of Engineering Keith Buffinton will be stepping down.

The Dean of Engineering is the chief administrative, academic, and budgetary officer of the College of Engineering, and is responsible for the oversight of the faculty, the curriculum in the department, professional and support staff development, facilities, budgets and salaries, and assessment and accreditation. His duties also include active participation in fundraising for the College of Engineering, overseeing the Small Business Development Center, and working directly with the Provost, the University President, the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Dean of Students to address overarching University issues.

Buffinton came to the University in 1987 to teach and research within the College of Engineering. At the end of this academic year, he will have been dean for seven years after initially securing the position in 2009 as the interim Dean of Engineering.

“I have had a truly outstanding experience as dean, primarily because of the many people with whom I have been privileged to work in the College and across the University, and am looking forward to the opportunity to pursue new endeavors in the coming years.” Buffinton said.

Throughout his years as dean, Buffinton has had many successes and accomplishments. He has helped establish several new initiatives and programs, such as the Engineering Success Alliance (ESA), the University’s admission into the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program, and MakerSpaces. Additionally, he became the University affiliate for Project Lead the Way in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The College of Engineering received a very positive ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) review, placing it in an excellent position for future initiatives. Buffinton and his colleagues in the department have succeeded in expanding cross-college opportunities for the students and faculty, diversifying both the engineering student body and faculty, and expanding support for student research. They too have enrolled, taught, and graduated hundreds of engineering students who are now in the industry, in graduate school, or in other areas like Teach for America and the Peace Corps.

“As a faculty member, and as dean, there is no greater pleasure than seeing our students succeed and pursue their passions in life,” Buffinton said.

Buffinton will be taking a one-year sabbatical with plans to return to the faculty in the College of Engineering in the fall of 2017. In rejoining the faculty, he will be working directly with the students, which is the reason he came to the University in the first place. Buffinton says he has always planned to return to teaching and researching with the students after ending his time in the Dean’s Office.

“Though the six years since I have become dean have been an amazing time in my life, I am thrilled by the prospect of returning to the classroom and laboratory,” Buffinton said in the letter he sent around campus last May announcing his plans to step down from his position.

Associate Professor of Biomedical & Chemical Engineering and Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department Dan Cavanagh was selected from among the engineering faculty by the University President and Provost to lead the search committee for the new Dean of Engineering. Buffinton is “confident that the transition to a new dean will be seamless” and is “excited by what the future holds for both the College of Engineering and Bucknell.”

The advertisement and job description for the position recently went public; recruitment for the new dean is just beginning.

“[We] are working closely with search consultants from Storbeck/Pimentel and Associates to build a broad pool full of individuals with a diverse range of experience and perspectives,” Cavanagh said.

Cavanagh and the search committee have many things to consider in selecting a new dean.

“Two strong areas of emphasis are: a new dean who can embrace the opportunity to further define engineering at a liberal arts university and be dedicated to enhancing interactions between engineering and the other academic programs on campus, and a dean who will facilitate the development of and implementation of a vision for the future of the College of Engineering,” Cavanagh said.

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