BY KELLY FRASER
Published May 1, 2006
As the majority students spent last week busily preparing to move out of Ann Arbor for the summer, electrical engineering and computer science chair David Munson learned he would have to make moving plans of his own.
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After nearly a year-long search, the University announced Thursday that Munson will be the College of Engineering's new dean.
If approved by the Board of Regents, Munson will officially assume the position July 1.
It is not unusual for searches to last a year - as it did in Munson's case, said University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham.
To begin any dean search, the provost requests nominations from the college and assembles an advisory committee of faculty, staff and sometimes student or alumni representatives to compose a list of candidates, Cunningham said.
Critics of the dean search said many of the candidates lacked ethnic and departmental diversity.
The previous dean of the college, Stephen Director, was also a professor in the EECS department before becoming dean.
Interim Dean Ronald Gibala said Munson's experience managing the EECS department, which composes nearly one-third of the entire college, has helped prepare him for the job. Gibala was appointed after Director announced his plans to leave the University in March 2005 to accept the position of provost and senior vice president at Drexel University.
Gibala said Munson will face the challenge of sustaining research funding on a tight budget.
"Virtually everything we do is of highest quality. Maintaining it across the board at times when financial funding is limited can be difficult," he said.
Tim Holman, a recent graduate of the college's masters program, said he first heard of Munson's appointment during the college's commencement ceremonies last week.
Although surprised by the announcement, Holman said he is pleased that Munson is an internal candidate.
"He already knows Michigan," he said.
If appointed, Munson said he expects the transition from Gibala to himself to be smooth.
"When I take over the reins, people aren't going to see a big change in direction or a big change in style," Munson said.
Munson, who described his leadership style as based on "heavy consultation" with students and faculty, said he aims to integrate more interdisciplinary projects at the undergraduate level and to increase research opportunities.
"I think we've got a very capable student body that is looking to do more than just coursework," Munson said.
He said that experiences such as the college's award-winning solar car team impact students and help to individualize their education.
Munson also said he hopes to incorporate more international exposure for students through study-abroad options and by organizing work opportunities with international businesses.
Munson came to the University in 2003 after spending 23 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a professor and researcher.
As chair of the EECS department at the University, Munson has continued his research, which primarily focuses on image-processing systems. He also expanded the department's research facilities.