JSOE dean of nine years to step down

    Robert Conn, dean of UCSD’s Irwin and Joan Jacobs School of Engineering, will step down from his position July 1 in favor of returning to the position of professor.

    Photo courtesy of UCSD

    “”This is the right time to step down for me and for the Jacobs School,”” Conn stated in a press release. “”With as much as has been accomplished, there is still much more to do. Over the next nine years, UCSD will continue to grow at a robust rate, and engineering on our campus will continue to grow along with it.””

    Troy Anderson, associate director of communications at the Jacobs School, added, “”It’s his ninth year as dean, and he just sort of felt it was time to step down. He’s been doing academia for a long time, and it had been a long appointment for a dean.””

    Under Conn’s leadership since 1994, the Jacobs School has become one of the top 10 public engineering schools in the nation. Conn led the school through a period of growth that brought increases in the number of faculty, graduate students and undergraduates.

    Conn was a fundamental part of fusing the school with the developing engineering industry. The Center for Wireless Communications, the William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement, and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology were all founded under Conn’s tenure.

    During his deanship, the Jacobs School’s research funding has grown from $33 million to $112 million and is now third in the nation in average research funding per faculty member.

    “”There’s a solid foundation that he’s laid down, and [the administration] is going to be conducting an extensive national search for a replacement,”” Anderson said.

    Marsha Chandler, UCSD’s senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, added praise.

    “”We feel that Conn has done a terrific job, and the school is in great shape,”” Chandler said. “”He leaves a legacy that will ensure the quality of UCSD’s engineering education program for decades to come.””

    Average annual private funding for the Jacobs School has doubled since Conn became dean, with over $145 million raised during his tenure. His influence on engineering education has been equally important. Conn chaired an advisory council to UC President Richard C. Atkinson that resulted in increased engineering funding and enrollments throughout the UC system.

    “”This enviable legacy is due to Conn’s innovative thinking, strategic focus, passion for educational excellence and outstanding faculty recruitment,”” Chancellors Robert C. Dynes and Chandler stated in an e-mail signed by both and sent to all students.

    Conn arrived at UCSD in 1994 after serving as professor of engineering and applied sciences and founding director of the Institute of Plasma and Fusion Research at UCLA. While at UCLA, he co-founded Plasma & Materials Technologies — now Trikon Technologies.

    Conn’s distinguished career is complemented by numerous honors within the engineering field, including the Outstanding Research Achievement Award from the American Nuclear Society in 1979, the Curtis W. McGraw Research Award from the American Society of Engineering Education in 1982, and the Distinguished Associate Award in 1996 from the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Department of Energy.

    “”As a campus, we are indebted to the dedication and contributions of this exceptionally distinguished educational leader,”” Dynes said.

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