AUSTIN, Texas — Sharon L. Wood has been named the ninth dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. A professor of structural engineering and an expert on the earthquake response of concrete structures, Wood has served as interim dean since October 2013 and will assume the post permanently Sept. 1.
“Through their learning, scholarship and research, Cockrell School engineering students and faculty embody UT Austin’s mission of changing the world. There is no one better qualified to lead them in those endeavors than Sharon Wood,” said UT Austin President Bill Powers.
Wood headed the school’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering for five years before becoming interim dean last year. She replaced Gregory L. Fenves, who had served as dean for five years before being named the university’s provost.
In 2013, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
Wood’s appointment comes as the school is building the Engineering Education and Research Center, which will transform undergraduate engineering education at UT Austin and provide new space for interdisciplinary teaching, research and hands-on student projects. With 270 faculty members, more than 7,500 students and annual research expenditures exceeding $150 million, the Cockrell School is ranked as the 10th best engineering school in the nation, and best in Texas, by U.S. News and World Report.
“I am thrilled to be selected as the next dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering, and I am honored to lead our community of world-class faculty and students,” said Wood. “It is an exciting time for the school. When completed, our new Engineering Education and Research Center will transform how our students learn and will establish UT Austin as a leader in multidisciplinary engineering education and research.”
Wood received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and her master’s degree and doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also served on the faculty for 10 years. She joined the Cockrell School faculty in 1996.
She is nationally recognized for her research on the earthquake response of reinforced concrete structures. She currently serves as vice president of the American Concrete Institute and has served on federal advisory committees for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and the U.S. Geological Survey. She is also former director of the Cockrell School’s Phil M. Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory, one of the nation’s leading research centers in the large-scale study of the behavior of bridges, buildings and structural components.
Wood was selected through a national search to fill the position.
“As a professor, department chair and interim dean, Sharon Wood has played a significant role in the Cockrell School’s national success in teaching and research. Her views about the impact of engineering in society and the opportunities ahead for the Cockrell School are compelling,” said Provost Fenves. “We spoke with candidates from premier programs around the country, and it was clear that Sharon had the experience and vision that make her the right choice to lead the Cockrell School.”