Internationally renowned engineer and mathematician Francois Baccelli and philosopher Galen Strawson have been appointed to two new endowed chairs at The University of Texas at Austin, effective Sept. 1.
The appointments make for a total of seven endowed academic chairs funded by earnings from the Longhorn Network.
The Simons Chair in Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering, held by Baccelli, was allocated $1.5 million in Longhorn Network money. These are matching funds that will be added to a $1.5 million grant from the Simons Foundation.
The Chair in Philosophy, filled by Strawson, was allocated $1 million.
“Just as the Longhorn Network begins to achieve major distribution, we also are now seeing the fruits of the agreement in ways that will benefit our academics for years to come,” said President Bill Powers. “The filling of these important chairs is a milestone worthy of celebration. I couldn’t be happier that Francois Baccelli and Galen Strawson have agreed to join our world-class faculty.”
Baccelli, who has a joint appointment in the colleges of natural science and engineering, is a member of the French Academy of Sciences and a pioneer in combining mathematics, telecommunications and network information theory to fuel innovative research. As part of his appointment, he will develop a new Center in Information and Network Science.
The center will bring together faculty members at the university from disciplines as diverse as communications, biology and the social sciences with the aim of finding governing principles common to a variety of network applications.
Baccelli comes to the university from the École Normale Supérieure de Paris, where he was director of computer science research. He also is resident “network wizard” at the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control and head of TREC, a joint research team involving INRIA and the ENS de Paris.
During Baccelli’s career he has built deep industry connections with telecommunication equipment vendors such as Alcatel, Qualcomm and Intel, as well as service providers such as Orange, France Telecom and Sprint. He has used his powerful theories to provide design insights and to guide cellular system implementation and optimization.
“He is the right glue to hold the two sides of the new center together,” said Alan Reid, chair of the Department of Mathematics in the College of Natural Sciences. “He’s a mathematician by training who has a strong track record of research in electrical and computer engineering. He’s also had a great deal of experience building up the kind of program we envision here at UT.”
Noted British philosopher and literary critic Strawson, who joined the College of Liberal Arts this semester, is a preeminent scholar on the philosophy of mind, metaphysics and moral psychology. His scholarship has focused on the works of John Locke, David Hume and Immanuel Kant, among others.
Strawson most recently was professor of philosophy at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, and he has been consultant editor at The Times Literary Supplement for many years.
He has been a regular visitor at the City University of New York Graduate Center Philosophy Program, where he was Distinguished Professor of Philosophy from 2004 to 2006, and he is a regular book reviewer for The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Independent, the Financial Times and The Guardian.
“The appointment of Galen Strawson as our college’s first Longhorn Network Chair demonstrates our commitment to attracting some of the world’s most prominent scholars to the College of Liberal Arts and The University of Texas at Austin,” said Randy Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Our students and faculty will greatly benefit from the addition of Professor Strawson to our world-class Department of Philosophy.”
Strawson is the author of numerous books, including the groundbreaking “Freedom and Belief,” in which he thoroughly examines the problem of free will. He also is principal author of the controversial “Consciousness and its Place in Nature,” which sparked renewed debate of the mind-body problem. A selection of Strawson’s philosophical papers titled “Real Materialism and Other Essays” was published in 2008 by Oxford University Press.
He will teach a first-year graduate seminar in metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of mind.
In addition to these two endowed chairs, Longhorn Network funds have made the creation of five additional chairs possible. The chair in Latin American Art History in the College of Fine Arts was filled by Professor Andrea Giunta in September 2011, and a chair in mathematics was filled by Professor Thaleia Zariphopoulou in January.
The following chairs have not yet been filled:
– Governor Ann W. Richards Chair for the Texas Program in Sports and Media/College of Communication
– Chair in African and African Diaspora Studies/College of Liberal Arts
– Chair in Physics/College of Natural Sciences