COC, IAC deans discuss plans

As it prepares to announce a new Strategic Plan in the coming days, the Institute welcomed two individuals crucial to the execution of the plan and achieving its goals. Dr. Zvi Galil assumed his role as the Dean of the College of Computing (CoC) on July 1, following a two year vacancy at the post. In addition, Dr. Jacqueline Royster will begin her tenure as the Dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts (IAC) on September 1. This transfer of leadership represents just a few of the many changes to senior level administration in recent weeks.

Prior to becoming the Dean of the CoC, Galil served as the President of Tel Aviv University in Israel for two years. He also served as the Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Columbia University from 1995-2007. One of the things that attracted Galil to Tech was the structure of the CoC within the Institute.

“The College of Computing has a very unique, very special setup. It’s a separate college, which is very rare. I believe that in the 21st century we should be a college. Computing is important in real life, everywhere we turn, but it’s also everywhere in scholarship: science, engineering, health care, law even the humanities,” Galil said.

Royster will officially assume leadership of the IAC on September 1, after fulfilling her obligations at her previous post at the Ohio State University. As a native of Georgia, Royster completed her undergraduate coursework at Spelman College, before pursuing graduate degrees in Literature at the University of Michigan.

“I think what Tech is trying to do with liberal arts is quite fascinating, given the world that we live in. Even by the modest assumptions is a highly technological world, and I believe that the liberal arts have an even more vital role to play than they have ever had,” Royster said.

Royster and Galil shared an interest in pursuing more interdisciplinary work with different academic units across campus. Royster noted that while the IAC already offers a set of interdisciplinary programs, it is important to make sure that educational enterprises are well linked to other academic units on campus in order to advance the quality of research and improve the role of liberal arts within a technological institution like Tech. Galil stated that the size of the CoC allows room for interdisciplinary work.

“When you are large [in number], you can cover many sub-fields of computing in a decent manner. You can also venture into other fields and be interdisciplinary. And you can move in new directions and take risks. Only that way can you lead,” Galil said.

Both Royster and Galil take leadership of their respective academic units at a time of economic uncertainty, as the nation continues to experience a deep recession and funding from the state and federal level declines.

“These are difficult times. We are asked to do more with less. Every cut is more painful, and you really have to find efficient ways to do things. Fortunately I think there are some ways we can operate more efficiently,” Galil said.

Galil hopes to conduct a strategic planning process within the CoC over the coming year, setting the direction of the college in a way that helps it achieve the goals set out by the strategic plan. Royster said that Tech is well positioned be a leader in many fields.

“Tech is really positioned in such a relevant way to the way the world is now, by being technological and at its core a fine institution for anybody to get an education. I’m impressed by what Tech wants to do with the people here [in the Strategic Plan],” Royster said.

Royster and Galil both shared their interest for meeting with students over the coming months and include their input for the decision making process.

“At Columbia, I was called the ‘email dean’ because I answered all my emails from students. I like students, and I like to participate in their events and interact with them regularly,” Galil said.