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Head, Department of Mechanical Engineering

The Penn State College of Engineering seeks a visionary and collaborative leader and highly accomplished scholar to serve as the next Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME). Applications, inquiries, and nominations are invited.

Established more than a century ago, the mechanical engineering program at Penn State has made a name for itself in the engineering industry through its storied tradition of unparalleled excellence and innovation in research, education, and outreach. Today, the program includes 60 faculty, 291 graduate students, and 661 undergraduate students working collaboratively on emerging research topics that elevate a traditional major to meet the challenges and opportunities of current and future societal needs such as advancing energy systems, making discoveries to create a more sustainable world, improving homeland security, advancing biomedical devices, and creating better transportation systems. Both the undergraduate and graduate programs are consistently recognized as top programs in the country. Of note is the department’s leadership in educational innovation, including an award-winning online Master of Science degree and digital badges. The talented and diverse faculty include a robust number of female faculty, as well as a number of non-tenure track faculty whose development and integration into the department play a vital role in its success. The faculty have meaningful and deep collaborations with research institutes across the university, underscored by a number of co-hires, affirming its commitment to interdisciplinary research. The new department head will build upon the considerable strengths of the department, including a new strategic plan which captures the department’s strong culture of collaborative vision and a modernized curriculum that promotes student success in the 21st century, to further extend Penn State’s impact on the next generation of leaders in industry, research, academia, and beyond.

Mechanical Engineering is the largest of the 13 departments and degree programs within the highly ranked Penn State College of Engineering. Under the leadership of Dean Justin Schwartz, who joined Penn State in August 2017, the College has outlined a bold vision for the future that emphasizes impact on society and embracing the challenges facing humankind, redefining multidisciplinary activity, and engaging globally. Plans include expanding research and graduate education, taking a national leadership role on equity and inclusion, and implementing a new master plan for buildings and infrastructure. As a member of the College’s leadership team, the ME head will play a critical role in the realization of the College’s vision and execution of the plan.

Reporting to the dean, the department head is responsible for visioning, strategic planning, operations, finances, academic affairs, external relations, and advancement. The next head will advance the curriculum for the next generation of engineers; continue to diversify the faculty and student make-up, especially regarding marginalized and under-served groups in engineering; ensure that the department remains ahead of its peers in educational innovation, including online learning and alternative credentialing; and grow the graduate program. Likewise, the new head will build connections to attract opportunities and resources from across the university, supporting a creative research environment, particularly but not solely in support of junior faculty development. In achieving these objectives, the next head must be a collaborative leader and possess the leadership skills, strategic capacity, and entrepreneurial spirit to advance the department. Additional essential qualifications include successful administrative experience in a university environment, a strong record of advancing equity and inclusion, the communication and interpersonal skills to engage a broad range of internal and external constituencies effectively, and a strong record of forging interdisciplinary partnerships. The new head must possess the scholarly record required to merit a tenured appointment as a full professor in the College.

Penn State is a public, land grant, research-intensive University with campuses and facilities throughout Pennsylvania. Founded in 1855, the University has a threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service. Its instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional, and continuing education offered through resident instruction and online delivery. Annual enrollment at its 24 campuses totals more than 100,000 graduate and undergraduate students, making it one of the largest universities in the United States.

Applications should be submitted as soon as possible, and no later than February 8, 2021 for fullest consideration. Application materials should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in the Leadership Profile.

Application materials should be submitted via the Wittkieffer Candidate Portal.

Nominations and inquiries may be directed to the WittKieffer consultants supporting this search, Suzanne Teer and Elizabeth Bohan at:

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