University Provost Phil Hanlon announced last week the reappointment of David Munson Jr. for a second term as the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of the College Of Engineering.

“He’s a terrific dean, a really outstanding leader for the college,” Hanlon said of Munson in an interview. “I really appreciate his interest and passion for the student experience.”

Hanlon said in a press release that Dean Munson’s reappointment review — an extensive look into the dean’s general impact across the College of Engineering from the perspective of students, faculty and staff within the college — “was almost uniformly positive.”

“Dean Munson’s thoughtful modernization of the UM Engineering Program maintains the strengths of the Michigan engineering education while evolving to produce engineers well prepared for the highly competitive global economy,” Hanlon wrote in the release.

Hanlon said in the press release that since becoming the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering in 2006, Munson has broadened the scope of undergraduate engineering education at the University and has improved the collegial environment in the College of Engineering through his “friendly, open-minded and visionary management style.”

Munson said in an interview that during his time as dean he has tried to emphasize
“co-curricular programs” and “experiential learning” for undergraduates in the College of Engineering. That focus, he said, has brought about more international and entrepreneurial programs.

Munson added that he has also stressed the importance of multidisciplinary work with departments outside of the College of Engineering. Whether in the form of research collaborations with the Medical School or course collaborations with the Colleges of Architecture, Art and Design or Urban Planning, Munson said the multidisciplinary emphasis has created more of a cohesive community on North Campus.

“We still have I think a long way to go in this area,” Munson said. “But we have, I think, some notable achievements.”

As a part of uniting students and faculty members on North Campus, Munson annually hosts a Halloween party on the North Campus Diag, and Munson is never without a costume. In past years, Munson has dressed in clever get-ups such as the Vlasic Pickle stork, a football goalpost and the Michigan Wolverine.

Munson pointed to the new Living Arts living-learning community — an interdisciplinary residential program in Bursley Hall designed for students from all colleges who want to explore their creativity — as a product of the multidisciplinary emphasis on North Campus.

Hanlon wrote in the release that Munson has been a leader in promoting multidisciplinary work across campus and in reaching out to industry partners.

For graduate students, Munson said he has worked to improve the overall quality of the Ph.D. programs in the college, partially by enforcing stricter credentials for incoming students.

He added that he stressed the importance of research programs in the college and encouraged researchers to write more proposals for larger research centers. He said research funding has increased by a wide margin over his four years as dean, citing some research programs that cost on the order of $20 million.

Munson said that this fall, faculty, staff and students in the College of Engineering will collaborate to set goals for the future of the college. He declined to give specifics, saying he didn’t want to reveal anything without having the full support of the entire College of Engineering community.

Before coming to the University, Munson earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware. He then went on to receive M.S., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Princeton University. After receiving his Ph.D., he conducted research and taught electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He came to the University in 2003 where he became the chair of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University.

A co-founder of InstaRecon, Inc., a University of Illinois-based company that patents algorithms to increase the efficiency of image formation on computers, Munson focuses his teaching and research on signal and image processing.

Munson has also served as a consultant to the Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratory and is a co-author of a widely used high school textbook that introduces students to computer science.

As a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Munson has received a number of awards, including the Society Award from the IEEE Signal Processing Society and the IEEE Third Millennium Medal. Munson was also the Texas Instruments Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rice University and has received various other teaching awards and honors.

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