After six months as interim CSE chair, Peter Chen steps down from position

Sunday, July 26, 2020 - 8:51pm

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File Photo/Daily

Peter Chen has stepped down as department chair of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, according to an email sent to Engineering faculty by Engineering Dean Alec Gallimore obtained by The Daily.

Chen succeeded Brian Noble, who stepped down in February amid controversy surrounding the department’s relationship with Jason Mars, co-founder and former CEO of Ann Arbor-based startup Clinc, who faced sexual harassment allegations.

In the email, Gallimore said Chen decided to step down for “personal reasons.” Chen will continue as interim until the end of his interim term, but the transition timing has yet to be announced. 

“I have appreciated Peter’s steadying leadership throughout the COVID-19 epidemic,” Gallimore wrote. “Peter also has been an important voice for the equitable treatment of all, both within CSE and beyond.” 

Michael Wellman, the College of Engineering’s associate dean for academic affairs, will succeed Chen. With the University Board of Regents’ approval, Wellman will serve a three-year term. 

“As a long-time CSE faculty member and leader in the College’s DEI efforts, Michael is well-equipped to build on the CSE community’s progress,” Galimore wrote in the email. 

Wellman has served for 28 years on CSE faculty, previously worked as CSE associate chair and spent the past four as associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering. 

In an email to CSE faculty, Wellman said he is honored to serve the CSE community as division chair and thanked Chen for his service in the past few months.

“Peter Chen has rendered on behalf of CSE,” Wellman wrote. “Pete stepped in as interim at a particularly difficult moment, and has worked heroically through a pandemic response and other challenges to keep the Division going and set on a positive course. The dedication of individuals like Pete makes Michigan CSE great, and provides inspiration for us all.” 

This is a developing story. Check back at michigandaily.com for updates. 

Summer News Editor Julia Rubin can be reached at julrubin@umich.edu