Engineering dean announces her intention to step down

Mary J. Sansalone, Ph.D., dean and professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering and Applied Science, who since July 2006 has directed the renewal of the school, has announced today her intention to step down from her position as dean at the end of the academic year to devote herself to teaching, research and other forms of University service.

During her deanship, Sansalone has created a visionary and exciting intellectual plan for the future of the school and developed a comprehensive master plan for a new 600,000-square-foot engineering complex. The design of the first phase of this complex is nearly completed.

She and her staff have worked hard to improve the management systems and research infrastructure of the school, including developing a more disciplined budget model, a centralized approach to engineering information technology services, and a new communications plan that includes the first school magazine and a new website.

Working with faculty, Sansalone has enhanced the curriculum, created a new curriculum committee to facilitate cross-departmental collaboration, created a new undergraduate research scholars program — the McKelvey Scholars — and developed a comprehensive set of international programs for engineering undergraduates where none existed when she arrived.

During her tenure the engineering school faculty voted to join the Graduate School in Arts & Sciences to give doctoral students in engineering the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. instead of a D.Sc. degree. Graduate student stipends increased and a comprehensive health insurance benefit was offered to graduate students.

Sansalone has worked with engineering departments to recruit outstanding faculty, and during her tenure the number of the women faculty in engineering has nearly doubled. She worked with faculty in chemical engineering and a graduate program in environmental engineering to create the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering — the first of its kind.

She has also built stronger collaborations with the schools of Medicine and Social Work and introduced the concept of cluster hiring in key intellectual areas across medicine, engineering, and the sciences so as to enable the focused recruitment of exceptional faculty. She reorganized the joint undergraduate program with the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and enrollments rose 20 percent in just one year.

These changes are ones that will serve well current and future generations of faculty and students.

Prior to coming to Washington University, Dean Sansalone served in leadership positions at both Cornell University and New York University. This included her serving as vice provost for academic programs and institutional initiatives at Cornell University and vice president for planning at New York University.

Prior to serving in these administrative roles, Dean Sansalone was an award-winning professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell University. Winning numerous awards for research, teaching, and service, Sansalone was named the U.S. National Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation in 1992, and in 1993, Cornell named her a Weiss Presidential Fellow for effective, inspiring, and distinguished teaching of undergraduate students.

Sansalone holds master’s and doctor’s degrees in structural engineering from Cornell University, and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Sansalone was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2002. She was awarded the Wason Medal for Materials Research in 1991. She was named a Presidential Young Investigator by the National Science Foundation in 1989, and in 1986 the National Bureau of Standards awarded her a Special Act Award for outstanding contributions to characterizing stress wave propagation in bounded solids containing flaws.