Former ArtSci Dean Ralph Quatrano named dean of engineering school

| Editor in Chief

For the first time in recent history, the former dean of Arts & Sciences is the dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Biology professor Ralph Quatrano was named the dean of the School of Engineering on Friday afternoon.

Quatrano comes to the post as the immediate past dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences. He served as interim dean of Arts & Sciences from July 1, 2008, until June 30, 2009, when Gary Wihl took over the position.

Quatrano succeeds Salvatore Sutera, senior professor of biomedical engineering, who has served as the interim dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science since July 1, 2008. Quatrano will serve as dean designate starting March 1, 2010, serving a four-month transition period. His tenure will officially begin in July.

“Ralph Quatrano has been an outstanding academic leader at Washington University for over a decade,” Chancellor Mark Wrighton said in a news release.

Although Quatrano has held no official positions in the engineering school, he said that biology and the field of engineering are closely intertwined and he hopes to build strong interdisciplinary relationships within the school.

“Engineering and the physical sciences are intimately related to the future of the life sciences,” Quatrano said in a University-issued news release. “It is going to be very important in the next decade that the biological and medical sciences integrate with engineering, and I feel that this position, looking back from engineering into the life sciences, will be exciting and challenging for me.”

The appointment comes two years after the former dean of the engineering school, Mary Sansalone, resigned from her post amid controversy. Throughout her less than two years as dean, Sansalone had come under fire for several controversial changes, including the merging of several departments and budget cuts in response to the school’s financial situation.

Tenured faculty within the school submitted a petition to Wrighton calling for Sansalone’s removal. She announced that she would step down in February 2008.

The search for a new permanent engineering dean started in December 2009 when Provost Edward Macias encouraged faculty members to submit applications and nominations for the position.

The applications were reviewed by the Advisory Committee on the Appointment of the Dean of Engineering, co-chaired by Macias; Joseph Ackerman, chair of the chemistry department; and Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert, associate professor of biomedical engineering. Other members of the committee include professors; department chairs; Evan Kharasch, interim vice chancellor for research; and Chris Kroeger, associate dean for engineering and applied science.

Senior Dan Brewster, president of EnCouncil—the student government for the engineering school—said that EnCouncil is looking forward to working with Quatrano.

“I think it’s great that we have a new dean and someone who has experience with Wash. U,” Brewster said. “We are all excited to have him. We haven’t heard of any changes that he will be implementing, but EnCouncil will look forward to working with him,” Brewster said.

Quatrano joined the University faculty in 1998 as the chair of the department of biology.

In his professional life, Quatrano’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms behind molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling seed development.

Quatrano earned his bachelor’s degree in botany with honors from Colgate University in 1962; his master’s degree in botany from Ohio University, Athens, in 1964; and his doctorate in biology from Yale University in 1968.

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