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Patrick Farrell named provost and vice president for academic affairs



Patrick V. Farrell will start as Lehigh's new provost and vice president for academic affairs on July 24.

Patrick V. Farrell, a professor of mechanical engineering with more than 25 years experience as a teacher, researcher and leader at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been named as Lehigh University’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Farrell, who served as Wisconsin’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs from 2006 until December 2008, was appointed following a national search.

“I was very pleased with the number of highly accomplished and qualified candidates we met with about this position. We are privileged to have Pat join us and I look forward to working closely with him during this exciting time at Lehigh,” President Alice P. Gast says. “Pat’s experience as an innovative teacher, accomplished scholar, and effective leader make him a strong addition to our leadership team as we continue our work on the strategic plan for Lehigh’s future.”

Farrell, who starts his new role on July 24, says he is impressed with Lehigh’s vision for the future.

“I think it’s exciting to see the energy around the new strategic plan,” he says. “I sense a readiness to say, ‘Let’s see what the Lehigh of the future will look like and let’s start making that vision a reality.’ My sense in talking to people on campus is that there’s a real enthusiasm and optimism about not only what Lehigh has been, but what it can be in the future. And people are anxious to take that on.”

As Lehigh’s provost, Farrell will serve as the university’s chief academic officer. His responsibilities include leading efforts to attract, recruit and retain highly talented individuals to Lehigh. He also will play a central role in working to ensure the success of institutional goals over the next decade.

Ward Cates, professor and associate dean in the College of Education and chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee, was a member of the provost search committee, and was delighted with the selection of Farrell.

“He has the right kinds of experiences and the right mindset,” Cates says. “Pat is a good thinker. He listens well and I was very impressed with how thoughtfully he approached the questions we asked. He seems to be a problem-solver who views two-way communication as a major part of making the decision.”

A distinguished academic career

During his time as provost at UW-Madison, Farrell served as chief operating officer for the Madison campus and led the university's two-year reaccreditation self-study initiative, which involved input from thousands of people on and off campus.

Farrell also led the successful campus-wide effort to define a set of learning outcomes expected of all UW-Madison graduates, known as "The Wisconsin Experience." And he made recruiting, hiring and retaining outstanding and diverse faculty, staff and students a priority, as well as serving as a strong advocate for student access and affordability.

Farrell, who this year received an Honorary Degree from City University London in recognition of his long-standing contributions to research and education in the field of mechanical engineering, focuses his teaching and research on fluid mechanics, combustion and optical methods as they relate to engine design and function.

A member of the engineering faculty at UW-Madison since 1982, Farrell was part of the original team that developed an innovative hands-on design course for freshman engineers and is a fellow of the UW-Madison Teaching Academy. He also served as the director of the Engine Research Center from 1999-2001; associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering from 2001-2005; and executive associate dean for the College of Engineering from 2005-2006.

Farrell is a member of the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Advisory Committee and a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers. He has taught courses in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, and has written more than 90 articles for reviewed publications.

He did his undergraduate work in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, received his master’s degree in the field from the University of California-Berkeley in 1978, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1982.

Farrell succeeds Mohamed El-Aasser, who moved into the newly created position of vice president for international affairs earlier this year. Gast thanked El-Aasser, who continued in a dual role as provost and vice president for international affairs during the search.

She also expressed her appreciation to the members of the search committee, who worked diligently on the task since September 2008.

Serving on the search committee were: Cates; Cameron Copeland, International Relations fifth-year student; Robert Flowers, Danser Distinguished Faculty Chair in chemistry; Gast, who served as chair of the search committee; Markus Gnerlich, Rossin Doctoral Fellow, electrical engineering; Scott Gordon, professor of English and director of Lehigh University Press; William Hecht, co-vice chair of the Lehigh University Board of Trustees; Daniel Lopresti, professor of computer science and engineering and chair of the Faculty Steering Committee; Frederick McGrail, vice president for communications; Frank Roth, general counsel and secretary to the board of trustees; Susan Sherer, professor and chair of the College of Business and Economics’ management department. Joanne Anderson, director of the Office of the President, served as search committee liaison.

--Jack Croft


Posted on Thursday, May 14, 2009

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