From the time he was a child, Dr. David H. Allen, the new dean of The University of Texas-Pan American College of Engineering and Computer Science, has enjoyed building things.
"I was always making things. I was the guy building models, I was the guy in the backyard building a tree house, I was making a sled in the winter," Allen said. "It was second nature to me."
Having the opportunity to build a new college is what attracted Allen, currently the dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to apply for the dean position at UTPA.
"It's an opportunity to build from the ground up," Allen said." I'm looking forward to sitting down with the faculty and saying, 'Let's wipe the slate clean and start from zero,' and say, 'What do we build if we want to build any college of engineering in the world, how would we build it what would it be, and build it in a way that it would fit the needs of the community."
Last year the University decided to split the College of Science and Engineering into two colleges as a result of the increased interest from students in pursuing careers in engineering, sciences and mathematics. Starting Fall 2010, the University will have two new colleges: the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Science and Mathematics. The split and the upcoming retirement of the current college's dean, Dr. Edwin LeMaster, prompted the University to begin a nationwide search for deans to head these schools.
Earlier this month, the University selected Allen as the dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and Dr. John Trant, currently the associate vice president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Baltimore, as the dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.
Allen said he wanted to come to an institution that is growing in population and programs. UTPA stood out to him in his search because it is increasing both in students and in academics.
"That's what excites me is the opportunity to be involved in the lives of more and more students as the college and the University go forward," Allen said.
Plus, the Dallas native said he and his wife Claudia have been looking forward to returning to their home state.
At Nebraska, Allen tripled external research funding for the engineering college from $11.7 million per year to $35 million per year, more than doubled the number of female faculty members, created a new strategic plan and policies for tenure and promotions and increased college revenues by $2.1 million per year by implementing a student engineering fee, according to his vita.
During his tenure as dean, undergraduate enrollment in the college increased by seven percent. The engineering college also initiated a new school of architectural engineering and construction. Allen said he looks forward to working with University faculty and staff, as well as members of the community to improve and expand the engineering college.
"Colleges of engineering are like any other colleges, they are responses to the demand from the public. It's not my job to tell the people in the Valley what it is that is needed, it's actually the job of the constituents of the University, that is, businesses and the taxpayers, to tell the University what it is that needs to be supplied to the population," he said.
He also would like to continue working with local school districts in promoting engineering careers to middle school students.
Dr. Javier Kypuros, who served as chair of the committee responsible for selecting finalists for the College of Engineering and Computer Science dean's position, said Allen was chosen as one of the finalists "because of his experience, his personality and his excitement to serve the mission and advancement of the new College of Engineering and Computer Science."
"In his interviews he seemed to truly grasp the potential and vision of this new college," Kypuros said. "Dr. Allen is well-established and respected both as a researcher and administrator at the national level. His scholarly work, administrative experience, international programs and fundraising skills are quite noteworthy."
Allen and Trant begin their new positions at UTPA on Aug. 1.
Searches are also under way for a new Provost/Vice President for the Division of Academic Affairs and Vice President for the Division of Business Affairs.