Dr. Jack W. Beal named interim dean of Fairfield University's School of Engineering



Image: Jack W. BealFairfield University Professor Jack W. Beal, Ph.D., a faculty member for the past 24 years, has been named interim dean of the University's School of Engineering.

Professor of physics and computer engineering, Dr. Beal was recommended for the position by Dr. Evangelos Hadjimichael, the School's founding dean who announced in September that he would be stepping down as dean at the end of the academic year.

Dr. Beal will serve on a two-year interim basis. During the 2010-11 academic year, he will help see the School through the re-accreditation visit by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). He will also contribute to strategic thinking about engineering programs for the coming years, with an eye towards new interests among prospective students and new employment trends in industry. In the 2011-12 academic year, the University will conduct a national search for the School's long-term dean.

Dr. Beal said, "I look forward to carrying on the tradition of a strong and vibrant School of Engineering at Fairfield University. I believe that such an engineering program is entirely consistent with our Jesuit mission and identity. And I look forward to working with the entire Fairfield community in the weeks and months ahead." Dean Hadjimichael added " I am very pleased that my colleague, Jack Beal, has accepted the assignment of guiding the School of Engineering for the next two years. It makes it easier for me to conclude my 15-year old tenure as dean, this coming June, knowing that Jack will be there to nurture the School"

A faculty member since 1967, Dr. Hadjimichael will take a sabbatical during the 2010-2011 academic year, and then return to Fairfield to teach and do research. He was the chief instigator in starting the School of Engineering at Fairfield University. In the early 1990s, he alerted the University about an opportunity to merge the 70-year-old Bridgeport Engineering Institute (BEI) into Fairfield University, and so establish Fairfield's School of Engineering. This was accomplished in 1994. During Dr. Hadjimichael's tenure, the School grew from a part-time undergraduate engineering program to several full-time and part-time undergraduate programs. In addition, several master's degree programs were added, starting in 1998. The School's outreach includes academic alliances with community colleges, and partnerships with prominent corporations that afford opportunities for internships for graduate and undergraduate engineering students. Before taking over as Dean of Engineering in 1995, he had pursued a 25-year NSF-supported research in theoretical nuclear physics, and served three terms as chair of the Physics Department.

"Obviously, the first word here is one of deep and abiding gratitude to Dean Hadjimichael, who has skillfully assembled and ably led a great team of faculty and staff to bring the school from initial integration to its present level of excellence," said Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., senior vice president for Academic Affairs at Fairfield. "Jack's first duty will be to nurture and care for all that Vagos and the whole faculty have built to this point."

The choice of Dr. Beal for the job was based upon his long association with Fairfield as well as his extensive administrative, research and pedagogical experience. His experience in industry and government sponsored research and development was also a factor. He brings to his new responsibilities experience in and passion for globalization and diversity, having been active in numerous programs and projects, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, both as a participant and as an administrator/developer/entrepreneur.

Fr. Fitzgerald characterized Dr. Beal as "an academic leader who knows the School of Engineering inside and out."

The appointment comes in the midst of growth at the School. Applications for full-time undergraduate engineering programs for the class of 2014 are up from last year by approximately 30%, while applications for graduate programs are also promising.

Dr. Beal was appointed associate professor of physics in 1986. He served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in the fall semester of 1991 and then from fall 1992 to spring 1994, with administrative and academic responsibilities. In 2005, he accepted a joint appointment in the School of Engineering as professor of computer engineering. The holder of six patents, he trains his junior colleagues to engage science and engineering students in research methods and analytical skills. Dr. Beal earned a Ph.D. and a M.S. in physics from Michigan State University, and a B.S. from Texas Technological University.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 4, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 220