Dr. Gregory L. Fenves, international expert in structural engineering and former chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, has been appointed dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.
Fenves’ appointment, which follows an international search, is effective Sept. 1. Fenves, 51, replaces Dr. Ben Streetman, who during his time as dean tripled the number of students receiving privately funded scholarships and fellowships, and added 18 privately funded faculty chairs to supplement state-funded faculty salaries. Streetman will take a one-year sabbatical, after having served 12 years as the Cockrell School dean.
“Gregory Fenves is an internationally recognized leader in civil and environmental engineering, and we are enormously pleased that he will take over the leadership of the Cockrell School of Engineering after Ben Streetman’s long and successful deanship,” said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. “Dean Fenves will inherit one of the premier engineering schools in the nation and we have confidence that under his leadership the school will accomplish even more.”
“The University of Texas at Austin is fortunate, indeed, to have Gregory Fenves as our new dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering,” said Dr. Steven Leslie, executive vice president and provost. “His strong vision, high standards for excellence and his personal charisma will take us far as we build upon the excellence that already exists in the Cockrell School.”
Leslie said the appointment of Fenves is expected to enhance the Cockrell School’s already strong reputation and national ranking. The school’s undergraduate program ranks ninth and its graduate program ranks 11th among 198 accredited engineering schools nationwide, according to U.S. News and World Report magazine. The publication also ranks the school among the top five public engineering schools in the United States.
Fenves said his vision for the Cockrell School of Engineering is to harness the intellectual assets of one of the most vibrant engineering schools in the nation to create the technological knowledge and educate the future engineering leaders to solve the world’s most pressing problems, including energy, health care and sustainability.
“Engineering in the Cockrell School, collaborating with the strong natural sciences, geosciences, policy, business and social sciences schools at UT Austin, is the ideal environment for creating new technologies that will truly improve society in the face of rapid population growth, increasing stresses on the environment and global economic competition,” Fenves said. “I am immensely impressed with the support of the Cockrell School by its accomplished faculty, enthusiastic students, dedicated staff, loyal alumni, and especially the highly engaged members of the school’s Engineering Advisory Board.”
Fenves earned his bachelor of science degree with distinction from Cornell University and his master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He assisted in developing and managing a $12 million industry-sponsored research program to increase the seismic safety and reliability of utility and transportation systems. Through the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, Fenves was a lead investigator on an interdisciplinary project to develop wireless sensor networks for assessing the structural health of bridges. During that same period, he chaired the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, from 2002 to 2007. Since then he has been a visiting professor at the University of Pavia, Italy, and Kyoto University in Japan conducting research on computational methods for earthquake engineering simulation.
Previously, Fenves had been assistant director for lifeline programs at the university’s Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center from 1997-2002, and from 1994-1996 had been vice chair for graduate affairs at the University of California, Berkeley Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s 1987 Presidential Young Investigator Award as well as several national awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, including the 1995 Walter L. Huber Research Prize, the 1993 Moisseiff Award and the 1989 Raymond C. Reese Research Prize.
Fenves, who is author and co-author of numerous scientific publications, is a former associate editor and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Structural Engineering. He served on the editorial board of Earthquake Spectra from 2001 to 2007 and has contributed to numerous professional activities in structural engineering and earthquake engineering.