Quatrano steps down, Bobick named new dean of engineering

| News Editor

After serving five years as dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Ralph Quatrano will step down on July 1 to make way for Aaron Bobick.


Bobick earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science along with his doctorate in cognitive science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he later led a research project and other research efforts. Much of his career has focused on computer science, and he will be coming to Washington University from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he has been a faculty member since 1999.

Quatrano, who during his years as dean brought in 30 new faculty members, said that the excellence of the chosen candidate and the candidate pool as a whole speaks volumes of Washington University’s engineering programs.

“The high quality speaks to me as saying that the school really has something to give to the new person to commit,” Quatrano said. “Good people don’t go to a school that’s mediocre or that doesn’t have the potential to which they can contribute something to take it to the next level, and that’s what we all wanted the new dean to do—to take it to the next level.”

Quatrano also noted that Bobick’s expertise in the field of computer science ties in well with Quatrano’s vision, which was to improve communication and collaboration between faculties and schools to match the global trend of convergence throughout the various aspects of engineering.

“[Bobick] brings with him the one research and teaching area that is so logical for teaching and interacting with other fields, so I think overall it was a great pick,” Quatrano said. “I’m excited about him coming, and I think there’s a bright future for him and a bright future for the school. I think everyone ought to be really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

The committee designated to select the new dean was chaired by Dean of the Olin Business School Mahendra Gupta. According to Quatrano, most of the current deans felt that Bobick was extremely personable and felt a very good rapport with him. Quatrano also noted Bobick’s enthusiasm and interest in getting the position.

“He’s currently on sabbatical in Sweden, and he flew back twice for interviews. These were two round-trip tickets just to be part of the search,” Quatrano said. “It was obvious to me when I met him that he thought highly of the school and wanted the position.”

Chancellor Mark Wrighton noted that Quatrano has achieved a lot during his time as dean but is also excited to usher in a new leader who is so established in his field.

“[Quatrano] has been very effective in recruiting really outstanding people, working collaboratively with department heads. I’m proud that he formed a joint initiative with [the College of] Arts & Sciences to start a Ph.D. program in material science, and he has also been very effective in securing additional support for the School of Engineering for our fundraising campaign,” Wrighton said. “We feel we have a really great person who will come in and build in the strength that have been developed under the leadership of Dean Quatrano.”

Wrighton noted the competitive nature of the applicant pool and that the committee was ultimately very pleased with their decision to hire Bobick.

“We had a great group of applicants; really talented people wanted the job. And as we went through the process and ultimately interviewed the finalists, we found in Aaron Bobick a really highly accomplished, dynamic and creative leader,” Wrighton said.

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