Engineering students, watch out. Your new dean is shaking things up.

Angela Cesere
New Engineering School Dean David Munson speaks at a reception in his honor yesterday afternoon in Tishman Hall on the first floor of the Computer Science and Engineering Building. (DAVID TUMAN/Daily)

At a reception in his honor yesterday, Engineering School Dean David Munson, who assumed his new post on July 1, promised to create a more lively engineering community.

Munson – who came to Ann Arbor three years ago to chair the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department – said he plans to develop new social events for the engineering community, though he wouldn’t say exactly what.

“I would like for the College of Engineering and also North Campus to be known for maybe some unusual events,” he said. “Things that only happen up here. Kind of quirky things that display a sense of humor and some adventuresomeness.”

At the reception, Munson enjoyed popcorn and snowcones and sported a continual smile.

“The carnival atmosphere, that’s very much him,” said Don Winsor, computing services manager for the EECS. “He’s trying to build a more social community.”

As chair of EECS, Munson started an annual cabaret show for students, faculty and staff to show off their many talents, from acting to sword fighting to magic. At last year’s event, the department discovered Munson’s talent for singing when he performed in a quartet with three other EECS professors.

“It was quite good,” Winsor said.

Before coming to Ann Arbor, Munson performed in community theater productions with his family.

“If I made a New Year’s pledge sitting here in September, it would be to make sure I get to Hill Auditorium and the Power Center and the theater at the League more often,” he said.

Munson’s other interests include gardening, canoeing, antiques, woodworking and attending sporting events along with his wife and four sons – especially Michigan ice hockey, basketball and football.

Munson said he hopes the engineering community at the University will similarly expand its horizons under his leadership.

“I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone,” Munson told reception attendees. “Because we’ve always done it that way’ should never justify how we operate.”

Munson said the college will expand study-abroad opportunities for undergraduates to help them compete in an increasingly global job market. In addition, students will be encouraged to put their classroom knowledge to work on collaborative projects and competitions like the Solar Car Team.

He said the college will focus on leading the way in the world’s transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy. The college will collaborate with other University departments through a new energy institute.

“Some projects also may require faculty to leave their comfortable campus environment to accept public policy leadership roles such as spokespersons, authors and visitors in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.,” Munson said. “Our world badly needs to see and hear more from engineers in positions of leadership.”

Munson was chosen because of his passion for undergraduate education, his intellectual leadership, his skill at interacting with potential donors, his management abilities and his commitment to diversity, said Martha Pollack, a member of the search advisory committee.

But it was Munson’s easygoing and approachable personality that faculty and staff noticed first.

Ed Caldwell, a facilities utilization planner in Munson’s office, described him as a “breath of fresh air.”

“He talks with folks, not to folks,” Caldwell said.

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