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WMU names new dean of engineering college

April 27, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A Michigan native who was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and went on to build a national reputation in aerospace engineering will become the next dean of Western Michigan University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Dr. Anthony J. Vizzini, the Bill and Carolyn Cobb Chair and head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University, will take the reins of WMU's engineering college July 1. His appointment, which includes a tenured position as a professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering, was made pending approval of the University's Board of Trustees.

Vizzini's selection follows a national search for a new engineering dean to replace Dr. Timothy Greene, who was chosen last summer to lead WMU's academic operations as provost and vice president for academic affairs.

In announcing Vizzini's appointment, Greene noted the caliber of Vizzini's credentials, his administrative accomplishments to date and the sense of connection he established with WMU faculty, staff and students during a visit to campus in February.

"Dr. Vizzini has a strong background in interdisciplinary research and graduate education, and his track record shows a keen ability to leverage academic and community resources to enhance economic development," says Greene. "He also has a deep understanding of Michigan's strengths and challenges, and, while he was on campus, he was really able to engage the members of our engineering community and demonstrate his commitment to students."

Vizzini has led Mississippi State's aerospace engineering department since 2003. In 2005, he was named the inaugural holder of the Cobb Endowed Chair at MSU's Bagley College of Engineering. Before that, he served for 17 years as a faculty member at the University Maryland, where he was graduate education director for two years and was founding director of the Composites Research Laboratory at the A. James Clark School of Engineering.

An Allen Park, Mich., native, Vizzini says he's excited about coming to WMU as well as having the opportunity to return to Michigan and help the state address the challenges it faces during tough economic times. When he visited the campus earlier this year, he says he was particularly struck by how the engineering college focuses on individual students and their success.

"I was impressed with Western's commitment to its students," Vizzini says. "The staff and faculty embody what I saw as the college's vision statement: 'Greatness through excellence, one student at a time.' Western offers the opportunity for an individual to learn in a nurturing environment and its graduates are changing this world by carrying on this tradition.

He notes that although the state of Michigan faces challenges, the University has the capacity and talent to meet those challenges and offer solutions and strategies that will advance the state.

Vizzini is an active researcher whose focus has been on the response and failure of composite structures, particularly as that relates to energy absorption and crashworthiness. He has been principal or co-principal investigator for research projects attracting some $18 million from such sources as the Office of Naval Research, the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing Defense & Space Group, NASA and the U.S. Army Research Office.

Active with engineering professional organizations, Vizzini is a fellow and president-elect of the American Society for Composites and served as chair for that organization's September 2008 technical conference. He also has been repeatedly honored for his work by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, earning an Goddard Space Flight Center' Exceptional Achievement and Outstanding Teamwork awards.

Since 2004, he has served as a reviewer for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology--ABET--which is the accreditation organization for collegiate engineering programs. He also serves as associate editor of the Journal of Advanced Materials.

Vizzini is a registered professional engineer who earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT in 1981, 1983 and 1986, respectively. He earned a second bachelor's degree in mathematics from MIT in 1982. In addition, Vizzini has participated in the Harvard Management Development Programs and the American Council on Education's program on conflict management.

WMU's engineering college, the University's fourth largest, is academic home to more than 2,500 students in eight departments, which offer 18 undergraduate and 14 graduate programs. The college is located in a new, state-of-the art complex on the University's Parkview Campus in Kalamazoo. The engineering complex is surrounded the WMU's Business Technology and Research Park, home to 30 companies focused on advanced engineering, life sciences and information technology.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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