Bras named new Provost

Rafael Bras was named the new Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. Bras comes from UC-Irvine where he served as dean of the school of engineering. (Photo courtesy of Communications and Marketing)

Rafael Bras was named the new Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. Bras comes from UC-Irvine where he served as dean of the school of engineering. (Photo courtesy of Communications and Marketing)

On Wednesday, July 7, the Institute announced Rafael L. Bras as the new Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. He will begin his tenure on Sept. 1. Bras comes from the University of California-Irvine, where he was Dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

“It is with great pleasure that I announce Rafael Bras will join Georgia Tech as its next provost. Over the course of his career, he has developed an international reputation centered on service, teaching and learning,” said Institute President G. P. “Bud” Peterson in a release.

“As a full spectrum university centered in engineering and science, Georgia Tech is in an excellent position to lead higher education in the 21st century. I am honored to become part of an extraordinary team that builds on a tradition of great institutional leadership. More importantly, my wife Pat and I are thankful for the welcoming offered by…a great family of students, staff, faculty and alumni(ae),” Bras said in the release.

Before his tenure at UC-Irvine, Bras was a professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT for 32 years, the last nine of which he was head of the department. Bras also served a stint as the Chair of MIT Faculty.

Among his many achievements, Bras was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2001 and the National Academy of Arts and Sciences of Puerto Rico in 2009. Bras received all three of his degrees in Civil Engineering from MIT.

“Dr. Bras was a standout candidate for Provost and we are very lucky that he will serve as our Chief Academic Officer. He brings with him a wealth of experience and an exceptionally strong commitment to quality teaching—one I think students will be very happy with. I am confident that he is going to make education (especially at the undergraduate level) a clear priority,” said former Undergraduate Student Body President Alina Staskevicius, who also served as a student representative on the search committee.

Dean of Management Steve Salbu headed the search for the new Provost, which was initiated after current Provost Gary Schuster announced his intentions to return to the faculty in October.

“I want to thank the members of the search committee, led by Steve Salbu, as well as those in our community who provided their comments on our finalists. Participation of this kind is vital to maintaining a healthy campus discourse, ensuring that all have an opportunity to be heard on what makes sense for the future of Georgia Tech,” Peterson said in a release.

The search involved three finalists, all of whom made presentations to campus discussing their philosophies in a broad range of topics dealing with the responsibilities of the Provost position.

As the Provost, Bras will be the chief academic officer of the Institute, and in such capacity will have broad budgetary oversight of all the Colleges. With continued uncertainty from the state, budget issues should continue to play a major role in the day-to-day work of the Provost.

“I do believe that, unfortunately, the relationship between state universities and the state, the funding model of the past, which worked quite well, will never come back…. The challenge of the team, between the administration and the faculty, becomes to come up with ways to develop a new model,” Bras said in his on-campus presentation.

The Provost is also responsible for collaboration between the Colleges and works with the faculty within the Colleges to set the curricula.

“In an institution like Georgia Tech, which should remain unique in its science and engineering-centric ethos, the humanities, social sciences and the arts have to learn and we have to learn, those of us not in those areas, how to interact beyond what is the service [of those programs],” Bras said.

“I am not interested in the science and engineering student learning simply how to write. I am interested in [those students] learning how leaders have evolved, how writing has evolved and how writing in the 21st century will play a role in culture and in science and engineering,” Bras said.

During the Strategic Planning process and the SGA elections, many students expressed a disconnect between them and the faculty. One of the primary complaints by students was that professors seem to only be concerned about their research and not teaching their students.

“If I wanted to do only research, I would not be at a university. I would go to a national lab because that is what they do. And would urge everybody that feels that way to go to a national lab…. We need to improve the delivery of education in a broad sense to our undergraduates, and [I have been told] that there may be some level of dissatisfaction [from the students]. If that is true, then believe me, I am uncompromising on [improving] that,” Bras said.

Bras will be one of several new faces in the upper level administration this Fall. Zvi Galil started at his position as the new Dean of Computing on July 1, while Jacqueline Royster will begin as the new Dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts by the start of the Fall semester.

“The top universities of engineering and science already have the particular reach and reputation, but to maintain and enhance those lofty reputations, they must be willing to change, be bold and take some risk,” Bras said.

On Wednesday, July 7, the Institute announced Rafael L. Bras as the new Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. He will begin his tenure on Sept. 1. Bras comes from the University of California-Irvine, where he was Dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

“It is with great pleasure that I announce Rafael Bras will join Georgia Tech as its next provost. Over the course of his career, he has developed an international reputation centered on service, teaching and learning,” said Institute President G. P. “Bud” Peterson in a release.

“As a full spectrum university centered in engineering and science, Georgia Tech is in an excellent position to lead higher education in the 21st century. I am honored to become part of an extraordinary team that builds on a tradition of great institutional leadership. More importantly, my wife Pat and I are thankful for the welcoming offered by…a great family of students, staff, faculty and alumni(ae),” Bras said in the release.

Before his tenure at UC-Irvine, Bras was a professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT for 32 years, the last nine of which he was head of the department. Bras also served a stint as the Chair of MIT Faculty.

Among his many achievements, Bras was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2001 and the National Academy of Arts and Sciences of Puerto Rico in 2009. Bras received all three of his degrees in Civil Engineering from MIT.

“Dr. Bras was a standout candidate for Provost and we are very lucky that he will serve as our Chief Academic Officer. He brings with him a wealth of experience and an exceptionally strong commitment to quality teaching—one I think students will be very happy with. I am confident that he is going to make education (especially at the undergraduate level) a clear priority,” said former Undergraduate Student Body President Alina Staskevicius, who also served as a student representative on the search committee.

Dean of Management Steve Salbu headed the search for the new Provost, which was initiated after current Provost Gary Schuster announced his intentions to return to the faculty in October.

“I want to thank the members of the search committee, led by Steve Salbu, as well as those in our community who provided their comments on our finalists. Participation of this kind is vital to maintaining a healthy campus discourse, ensuring that all have an opportunity to be heard on what makes sense for the future of Georgia Tech,” Peterson said in a release.

The search involved three finalists, all of whom made presentations to campus discussing their philosophies in a broad range of topics dealing with the responsibilities of the Provost position.

As the Provost, Bras will be the chief academic officer of the Institute, and in such capacity will have broad budgetary oversight of all the Colleges. With continued uncertainty from the state, budget issues should continue to play a major role in the day-to-day work of the Provost.

“I do believe that, unfortunately, the relationship between state universities and the state, the funding model of the past, which worked quite well, will never come back…. The challenge of the team, between the administration and the faculty, becomes to come up with ways to develop a new model,” Bras said in his on-campus presentation.

The Provost is also responsible for collaboration between the Colleges and works with the faculty within the Colleges to set the curricula.

“In an institution like Georgia Tech, which should remain unique in its science and engineering-centric ethos, the humanities, social sciences and the arts have to learn and we have to learn, those of us not in those areas, how to interact beyond what is the service [of those programs],” Bras said.

“I am not interested in the science and engineering student learning simply how to write. I am interested in [those students] learning how leaders have evolved, how writing has evolved and how writing in the 21st century will play a role in culture and in science and engineering,” Bras said.

During the Strategic Planning process and the SGA elections, many students expressed a disconnect between them and the faculty. One of the primary complaints by students was that professors seem to only be concerned about their research and not teaching their students.

“If I wanted to do only research, I would not be at a university. I would go to a national lab because that is what they do. And would urge everybody that feels that way to go to a national lab…. We need to improve the delivery of education in a broad sense to our undergraduates, and [I have been told] that there may be some level of dissatisfaction [from the students]. If that is true, then believe me, I am uncompromising on [improving] that,” Bras said.

Bras will be one of several new faces in the upper level administration this Fall. Zvi Galil started at his position as the new Dean of Computing on July 1, while Jacqueline Royster will begin as the new Dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts by the start of the Fall semester.

“The top universities of engineering and science already have the particular reach and reputation, but to maintain and enhance those lofty reputations, they must be willing to change, be bold and take some risk,” Bras said.