Dean of engineering to retire

After serving over eight years as Dean of the College of Engineering (CoE), Dr. Don Giddens announced his decision to retire from the Institute, effective on July 1, 2011. Following his retirement he will become a part time research faculty member at the School of Biomedical Engineering. His decision comes at a time of change within the Institute, as it embarks on a new strategic plan and adapts to the continued poor economic conditions. According to Giddens, he has been considering retirement for several years. He was persuaded to stay following the departure of former Institute President G. Wayne Clough until a new President was in place.

“I agreed at that time, about two and a half years ago, that I would stay through the transition and after the new President got settled in we would announce my retirement and leave enough time for a search committee to find a new Dean before I left,” Giddens said.

In addition to serving as Dean, Giddens is an alum who entered as a freshman at Tech in 1958, before earning his undergraduate, masters and doctorate in Aerospace Engineering. Following a few years in industry, Giddens returned to Tech in 1968 as an Assistant Professor in the aerospace department. Since that time, he has served the Institute in a variety of roles, including as the school chair of AE and the school chair of BME.

Giddens briefly left the Institute to serve as Dean of Engineering at John’s Hopkins University from 1992-1997. He returned to Tech in the fall of 1997 to develop and chair the BME program at Tech before becoming Dean of the CoE in 2002.

“Looking back, I think that developing the joint biomedical engineering program with Emory will be the most significant thing. It was a new academic endeavor, and it has been very successful,” Giddens said.

Giddens said that there have been important changes within the CoE during his tenure.

According to him, the CoE has moved strongly into interdisciplinary research and also into health-related areas. Giddens said that the main challenge for his successor has to do with the finances of the Institute.

“The main challenge has to do with the budget situation. The faculty workloads have gone up in terms of student credit hours taught and research dollars brought in per faculty member,” Giddens said.

Giddens hopes to stay on as a research faculty member for at least three to four years.

“It’s been a great career, and I have seen so many changes since 1958. Over that period of time Tech has for the most part given me and others the opportunity to develop… that’s been a characteristic of Tech that is really important to preserve,” Giddens said.