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Harriet Nembhard named new dean of College of Engineering

Harriet B. Nembhard, the Eric R. Smith Professor of Engineering and head of the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, has been named dean of the University of Iowa College of Engineering. She will begin on June 29.

As dean, Nembhard will oversee a dynamic multidisciplinary college with more than $50 million in annual research expenditures, 2,400 students, and 250 faculty and staff. The college has six departments and six centers with a deep commitment to collaboration, innovation, and excellence.

Nembhard has been at Oregon State since July 2016, where in addition to her role on the College of Engineering’s leadership team, she has been active in university-level strategic planning and efforts to advance inclusivity, student success, and well-being. 

Nembhard succeeds Dean Alec Scranton, who announced in January 2019 that he would step down on June 30, 2020.

“I am incredibly excited to welcome Harriet to our campus and I look forward to working with her,” says Montserrat Fuentes, executive vice president and provost. “She has demonstrated tremendous talent as a very accomplished leader and I am confident she will enhance our research and training and build upon the successes of the College of Engineering.”

Nembhard was one of four finalists invited to the UI campus in October and November to interview for the deanship. The search was led by a committee co-chaired by Dan Clay, dean of the College of Education, and Keri Hornbuckle, professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Nembhard earned a bachelor of arts degree in management from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California; a bachelor of science in industrial engineering from Arizona State University; and a master of science and PhD in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan.

Before joining Oregon State, Nembhard was a professor in the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State; she served as interim head of the department in 2015. She also served as site director of the Center for Health Organization Transformation, a National Science Foundation Industry–University Cooperative Research Center. 

Nembhard’s scholarship in industrial engineering and operations research is focused on improving complex systems across manufacturing and health care. She is widely published in leading professional journals, has served in numerous journal editorships, co-authored three books, and holds a patent. She is a fellow of both the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the American Society for Quality. She currently serves as a member-volunteer for the ARCS Foundation and as an alumna-trustee for Claremont McKenna College.

“I am honored to be joining the University of Iowa to lead the College of Engineering,” says Nembhard. “I believe the north star for the discipline of engineering is to continually seek creative solutions to elevate humanity and address the needs of our society. The college has made tremendous strides over the decade of Dean Scranton’s service to do precisely this. I am looking forward to working with faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders to make the college even greater. We are at a moment where it is imperative that we accelerate our work to build an inclusive community focused on excellence and innovation in order to impact the state of Iowa, the nation, and the globe.” 

The college has made a number of important recent advances including the completion of a $37 million, 65,000-square-foot addition to the Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences and naming of the Roy J. Carver Department of Biomedical Engineering. Among its distinguished alumni and faculty are eight members of the National Academy of Engineering.

Nembhard will receive an annual salary of $350,000. Her appointment must be approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

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