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Pearl Sullivan Recommended as Next Dean of Engineering

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

Dean Adel Sedra’s recommended successor is finally known. After the six month search finally ended, Geoff McBoyle, Provost and Chair of the Dean of Engineering Nominating Committee, sent a memo to all Engineering faculty, staff and students to announce that the committee was unanimously recommending Dr. Pearl Sullivan to succeed Dean Sedra as leader of Canada’s largest Engineering school. Her term will start on July 1st, 2012.

Dr. Sullivan first came to Waterloo in 2004, as a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, before being appointed Chair of the department in 2006. It was under her tenure that the department graduated the first class of Mechatronics Engineers, saw large expansion in undergraduate and graduate enrolment, and, ultimately, grew to become the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering we know today. Prior to coming to Waterloo, she spent 10 years at the University of New Brunswick, as well as three years at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Before Dr. Sullivan is officially appointed Dean of Engineering, two important events must occur under Policy 45, the university’s governing policy for appointments of Deans. First, a secret vote by regular faculty and staff must occur with the results only to be known by the committee, in order to show support for the candidate’s recommended appointment. Should support be shown by the vote, the candidate’s name will then be formally recommended to the Board of Governors, the highest governing body of the university. The Board will then vote on the recommendation of the Nominating Committee, and if they choose to accept it, the candidate will be officially appointed.

The recommendation of Dr. Sullivan comes after a six month search period that saw candidates from around the world apply. The Search Committee was composed of representatives from all stakeholder groups including faculty, staff, undergrads, grads, and the university administration. The official commencement memo, sent in June 2011, asked some guiding questions that the committee was looking for feedback on, including the challenges and opportunities the Faculty faces, recommendations on potential successors, and the direction the Faculty needs to head towards in the future. Extensive consultation with stakeholders occurred at this point as well.

Based on the consultation process, the position profile was created and posted throughout the summer. A global array of candidates applied. After going through submissions, the list was narrowed down and interviews of selected candidates took place. Based on interviews and in-depth referencing available to the committee, members unanimously agreed to recommend Dr. Sullivan for consideration by the constituency as the next dean of the Faculty of Engineering. To make the appointment official, the previous outline steps must be carried out.

While it’s disappointing to see Dean Sedra reach his term limit, members of the Engineering community should be excited to see another strong researcher, teacher, and leader taking over in his shoes. Dr. Sullivan has more than enough to keep her busy for her potential 5-year initial appointment, with challenges such as: finalizing and implementing the Vision 2015 plan; fundraising for new facilities; balancing the needs of a Faculty that stretches from Waterloo to Cambridge to Dubai; and increasing teaching quality and keeping all the existing operations still chugging along.

A link to Dr. Sullivan’s CV, candidate statement, position profile, committee members, and all other public documentation, is available through the official memo e-mailed to all students, staff and faculty.

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