Sutera appointed engineering dean

Puneet Kollipara
Scott Bressler

Correction Appended

Senior Professor of Biomedical Engineering Salvatore Sutera has been appointed as the interim dean of the Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science, Chancellor Mark Wrighton will announce today.

Sutera will succeed the current dean, Mary Sansalone, whose tenure began in July 2006; Sutera’s tenure will officially begin on July 1, 2008.

Sutera looks forward to leading the School of Engineering.

“I think it’s a very important task that lies ahead, and the faculty and Chancellor Wrighton feel I have the right experience and personality to tackle this, so I’m very appreciative of the confidence they’re showing,” Sutera said. “I plan to do my best to calm the atmosphere down and get the dean’s office and the various departments working smoothly together again.”

According to Wrighton, Sutera’s long history in the engineering school and his track record make him a good choice for the future of the school.

“He has a broad knowledge of our school and of our university, and has an established track record of effective leadership in the School of Engineering,” Wrighton wrote in an e-mail this weekend.

Sutera joined the engineering faculty in 1968 as chair of the mechanical engineering department, a position he held until 1982. He was the acting chair of the department from 1985 to January 1986 and then the permanent chair from February 1986 through 1997.

Sutera also served as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering when it was created in 1996 until the current chair, Frank Yin, arrived in 1997.

According to the press release, Sutera is well known for his research in biomedical engineering, particularly with respect to fluid mechanics in blood circulation.

“Dr. Sutera has thus engaged a wide spectrum of the School of Engineering and has also had substantial interactions with the School of Medicine,” Wrighton wrote.

Sutera has served in several academic societies, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biomedical Engineering Society and the North American Society of Biorheology, the press release said.

He also has significant industrial experience, having worked for corporations like North American Aviation, E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co., Electro-Optical Systems Inc. and Glen L. Martin Co.

Sansalone, who will step down at the end of the academic year, announced her resignation on Feb. 26 amid controversy raised by students and faculty over decisions she had made regarding the future of the School of Engineering. She will remain in the School of Engineering to teach, research and serve in other administrative capacities.

As Sansalone’s tenure closes, Wrighton and Sutera say that she has made important contributions that will serve the school well into the future.

“Dean Sansalone assisted in developing a stronger management system and organizational structure, initiated important curriculum changes and developed a vision and plans that will be our guide to future initiatives for the school,” Wrighton wrote.

“I think she’s accomplished some really important things in the restructuring of the various disciplinary areas. I really think she’s implemented good ideas for the coalescence of some areas and the strengthening of others,” Sutera said. “I know she’s had some tough financial problems to solve. I think she did a very good job of tackling those immediate problems that were faced.”

Wrighton believes that with Sutera as its dean, the School of Engineering will enjoy a bright future.

“Our School of Engineering has excellent students, faculty and staff. Great plans have been developed, and Dr. Sutera will be a key contributor to implementing these plans,” Wrighton added. “We have a strong foundation and much potential, and the future of the school is very bright.”

Sutera earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1954. He then earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1955 and 1960, respectively, according to the press release.

Correction: An article on Monday, April 28 incorrectly stated that Professor Salvatore Sutera would become the 10th dean of the engineering school; in fact, Sutera will become the interim dean.

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