Robert Schwartz named interim dean of MU College of Engineering

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 | 7:19 p.m. CDT; updated 8:40 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 11, 2014

COLUMBIA — The MU College of Engineering will have an interim dean, effective Sept. 1, Interim Provost Kenneth Dean announced Wednesday.

Robert Schwartz, UM System chief of staff and custodian of records will step into the position and replace James Thompson, who announced Monday that he was stepping down from the dean's position.

"Bob Schwartz brings a wealth of experience as an engineer and as an academic leader to the college," Dean said in an email. "We are very excited that he has agreed to take this incredibly important position as we continue to implement the academic mission of the College of Engineering and MU. We know he will do a superb job building on the successes of the past while helping to position the college for the future."

Schwartz said in a news release that he is thrilled to take on this role.

"The College of Engineering at MU has a rich history of research and education that has directly impacted the citizens of Missouri," Schwartz said in the release. "I ... will be working with the college's leaders to ensure that we don't lose any progress that has been made during Dean Thompson's 20-year leadership."

Thompson will step down to spend more time with his family, according to previous Missourian reporting. He has been the dean of college since 1994.

In the release, Schwartz said he will not be a candidate for the permanent position. MU will create a search committee to conduct a national search beginning in the fall. MU spokesman Christian Basi said a deadline for finding a new  dean has not been set at this point.

UM System President Tim Wolfe said it is imperative that the college continue to make strides in achieving its mission of producing science, technology, engineering and math graduates for the state's economy during Schwartz's interim period.

"Dr. Schwartz's impeccable credentials from his time in leadership roles at the University of Missouri System and at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, plus his strong engineering background, make him the perfect choice to lead the college until a permanent dean is found," Wolfe said in the release.

Prior to joining the UM System in April 2012 as an administrator, Schwartz was the interim provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at Missouri S&T, according to the release. He also served as a professor of ceramic engineering, the department's associate chair and as the faculty senate president at Missouri S&T, Dean said in an email.

Schwartz is a fellow in the American Ceramic Society, and he served on the society's Board of Directors from 2010 to 2013, Dean said in an email. He received a doctorate in ceramic engineering from the University of Illinois and holds a bachelor's degree in science education and a master's degree in chemistry from North Carolina State University, according to the UM System website.

Supervising editor is Mary Ryan.

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