Bras discusses new initiatives

Dr. Rafael Bras officially began his tenure as Tech’s Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs on Sept. 1. His arrival at Tech occurs during a time full of academic transition, which includes the upcoming retirement of the Dean of the College of Engineering (CoE), Dr. Don Giddens and the recent unveiling of the Institute’s Strategic Plan.

In his new position as Provost, Bras is in charge of the formulation, direction and oversight of all academic elements at Tech. As the chief overseer of academic policy and priorities, the Provost establishes and maintains the quality standards of the student body’s education. The Office of the Provost is also in charge of the staffing and hiring process for faculty and academic administrators.

Upon becoming Provost, Bras began encouraging a full list of short-term objectives that will impact Tech’s ongoing maturation.

“Some of the short term action items include development of the implementation plan for the strategic plan, finding a new dean of engineering, development of principles to guide the growing activities of Georgia Tech internationally, making sure that Georgia Tech Savannah has a clear development plan within the umbrella of the recently unveiled strategic plan, evaluating our efforts to improve the richness that diversity brings to our educational enterprise and integrating the new Clough center into a revitalized focus on innovative engineering education,” Bras said.

Bras brings with him a career full of academic merit and management experience. After spending 32 years filling various faculty and administrative positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bras left his alma mater to head the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine.

“I know how a large private research university and a large public university works. Maybe most importantly, I am, and have always been, an active professor and researcher with appointments in engineering and science,” Bras said, “I know what it takes to excel at the ground level.”

Bras understands the importance of the newly released strategic plan as a visionary, living document that will define and provide a framework for Tech’s initiatives over the next 25 years. Among some of his first actions, Bras has begun gathering more explicit short-term initiatives for the strategic plan.

“The challenge to all of us is to translate those [strategic plan] initiatives and goals to specific action items in the short and long-term. Progress in those action items should be measurable. I have already initiated a process engaging all academic and research units to flesh out how each of us will respond to the plan and define our specific action items,” Bras said.

Bras stressed the importance of finding a new Dean for the CoE by the time that Giddens’ retirement.

“A search committee will be appointed and begin activities this fall. I expect that we will have a new Dean of [the CoE] for the next academic year at the latest,” Bras said.

In the long-term, Bras’s ultimate goal is to establish institute wide excellence at Tech, with focuses on improving the student-faculty ratio and recruiting the best talent from all over the world.