Reappointment of Vijay Kumar as dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science

We have received the report of the Consultative Review Committee on the Reappointment of Vijay Kumar as the Nemirovsky Family Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and are delighted to recommend to the Trustees the reappointment of Dean Kumar for a second term, to run through June 30, 2027.

Under Dean Kumar’s leadership, the previous six years have been exciting ones for Penn Engineering. The School’s strategic plan, Penn Engineering 2020, has catalyzed growth across all of the School’s dimensions, especially in engineering health, data science and computation, and energy science and technology. Dean Kumar and the Penn Engineering community continue to focus their collective efforts on critical areas of school-wide importance including diversity, equity, and inclusion; collaborative and translational research; and pedagogic innovation in online learning and investment in educational technologies. The Committee strongly supported Dean Kumar’s reappointment and noted the great enthusiasm and ambition he holds for the School along with the talent, energy, and support needed to thrive in a second term. We enthusiastically agree.

Penn Engineering has achieved truly remarkable growth under Dean Kumar: growth in its preeminent faculty, adding 44 new tenure-track faculty from 2015 to 2020; modernization and growth in its physical plant, highlighted by the soon-to-come Data Science Building; growth in student quality, selectivity, and diversity; growth in cross-school, interdisciplinary partnerships, with prominent examples including the Penn Center for Health, Devices, and Technology (Penn Health-Tech), energy science and technology initiatives; growth in innovative new degree programs, most notably the first-of-its-kind online Master of Computer and Information Technology (OMCIT); and student entrepreneurship programming.

The Review Committee also commended Dean Kumar’s exemplary leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The School’s response to the pandemic was nothing short of heroic: students banded together to manufacture and mass produce critical, lifesaving PPE; researchers developed diagnostics, treatments, and therapeutics in partnership with Penn Medicine and other health science schools; and faculty members reconfigured hundreds of longstanding courses for a virtual format. Penn Engineering has embodied resilience, resourcefulness, and responsiveness at all levels, and Dean Kumar deserves enormous credit for his active and enthusiastic leadership.

We thank and salute the members of the Review Committee for the commitment and wisdom they brought to this process. After receiving its charge from us in February 2021, the Committee—both in formal meetings and through its chair, Wharton School Dean Erika James—interviewed Dean Kumar; conducted informational interviews and conversations with various members of the faculty, staff, student body, and alumni community; and held open meetings for faculty, staff, and students within the School. The Committee also examined a comprehensive selection of data and documents concerning the School, including detailed budget, enrollment, and employment data. The Committee met five times over a period of three months.

The Committee’s final report to us assessed and analyzed the accomplishments of the Dean and the School over the past six years in a wide array of domains, including: strategic vision and planning; faculty recruitment, retention, and diversity; academic programs and student quality; research and scholarly programs; School administration and staff; finances and philanthropy; facilities and infrastructure; and engagement with alumni, the professional community, and the general public.

We believe that Dean Kumar is exceptionally well-positioned to lead Penn Engineering through an exciting period of growth and as it continues its ascent to international preeminence. We will bring a resolution to the Trustees at their next meeting to reappoint Vijay Kumar as Nemirovsky Family Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.