New Dean of Engineering is ready for the challenge

Madison Weaver, Staff Writer

 

This semester, the College of Engineering welcomes a new leader into their faculty: Dean Patrick Mather.

Drawn to the University by its small student-faculty ratio, outstanding reputation, the Lewisburg community, and the surrounding area’s ideal location for running and cycling, Mather is excited to begin his new position and bring positive changes to the College of Engineering.

“I view the position of dean as akin to general manager of a pro sports team—I need to express a vision, develop and set in motion a practical plan, then get out of the way!” Mather said. “Time will tell how well I can do this, but I’m excited by the challenge.”

Mather joins the University with rich experience and qualifications. He earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering science and master’s degree in engineering mechanics from Penn State University, after which he earned his doctorate in materials engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. It was there he worked with the fluid mechanics of liquid crystal, or “the stuff in our computers,” Mather said.

“Just out of grad school, I worked for five years at the Air Force Research Labs. (I was a rocket scientist!) Then, realizing that people were more interesting to me than rockets, I switched to a career in academia, starting at UConn, then Case Western, and most recently Syracuse University, where I was for nine years,” Mather said.

Beyond his impressive academic ventures, Mather boasts a large assemblage of hobbies and skills, including running, cycling‚ squash, and playing the guitar. Mather also has two sons and three step daughters, whom he is “always happy to brag about.”

“My wife, Tara, is a chemical engineer and ‘stud’ at the triathlon—she won her age-group recently at the Lewisburg Sprint Tri,” Mather said.

Mather plans to spend his first year listening to his students, alumni, and the other faculty and staff in order to discern the strengths of the engineering program and determine what could be improved. He has already identified one such area.

“I already see some opportunities to enhance the support of students and faculty who wish to conduct exploratory research in areas ranging from healthcare to sustainability,” Mather said.

Eventually, he hopes to “construct a strategic plan that aligns our efforts and resources with our collective goals.”

Since his move from the classroom and laboratory to a leadership role is so recent, Mather is familiar with the common dilemmas that plague engineering students and is ready to connect with students in a personal way.

“All should realize that I ‘get’ their circumstances, challenges, and dreams more than they might realize. So, consider me a door-knock (Dana 235A) or email (patrick.mather@bucknell.edu) away from a helpful conversation,” Mather said.

The engineering students are looking forward to working with the new dean.

“I am excited to meet [Dean Mather] and to see what changes he brings to the school of engineering,” Colleen Hanisco ’19 said.

“Put succinctly, I want to make the Bucknell Engineering experience as valuable to our graduates as possible, while advancing the mission of our University,” Mather said. “Given the established excellence of our college, my stated goal is quite a challenge.”

 

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