While the halls of Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) are once again buzzing with student activity, the arrival of the fall 2014 semester also marks some major shifts in administrative leadership at the college. In addition to an interim dean leading the helm, several IST faculty members have assumed new leadership roles that utilize their talents to further advance the college’s objectives.
Mary Beth Rosson, a professor of IST and formerly associate dean for undergraduate studies, has been named interim dean of the College of IST following the departure of David Hall, who concluded his deanship of the College of IST on June 27. Hall will take a sabbatical in the fall of 2014 and will return in a full-time faculty role through the end of the 2015-16 academic year.
In addition to Hall’s and Rosson’s transitions, another senior administrator, Michael McNeese, has decided to pursue new opportunities within the University. McNeese stepped down from his role as senior associate dean for research, graduate studies and academic affairs on Aug. 1 to take on a new role as co-director for the new General Electric (GE) Center for Collaborative Research in Intelligent Gas Systems (CCRNGS) Research Center. The GE CCRINGS Research Center is a five-year, multi-million dollar collaborative research effort among the College of IST, College of Engineering, and College of Earth and Mineral Sciences to address collaborative research in modeling, simulation, supply chain management, and data analytics and visualization for natural gas applications. In addition, he will act as the responsible faculty member for a new University/IST Fund for Innovation, beginning this fall.
"The last seven years as an academic administrator have been an amazing source of learning, but more importantly, have afforded an me a wonderful opportunity to serve others through a variety of intriguing roles in the college," McNeese said.
McNeese will return to his original position as a professor of IST to "become re-engaged with research, teaching, and serving." In his role at CCRINGS, his research will focus on collaborative systems, information visualization, sensor fusion, and the "internet of things."
"I will be coordinating these areas with Dr. David Hall as part of a integrated approach for the College of IST," he said.
“Mike’s new role will allow him more time to conduct research in the areas of team cognition, collaboration, and hybrid human/computing decision-making and collaboration systems,” Hall said. “I look forward to working with Mike as we both enter new/old roles as senior faculty members.”
In addition to those top administrative changes, several IST professors will be assuming new positions that will temporarily fill the vacant spots and/or expand upon previous roles.
Lee Giles, professor of IST, has been named interim associate dean for research. In this role, he will represent the College of IST on university-level research activities; lead initiatives to build strategic research collaborations with other colleges, centers and institutes at Penn State and elsewhere; coordinate and guide the work of IST research centers and labs; facilitate the activities and deliberations of the Research Advisory Council; and provide general research mentoring and support as needed to individuals and groups of faculty.
Carleen Maitland, associate professor in the College of IST, has been named interim associate dean for graduate and undergraduate studies. In her new role, she will represent the college in university-level education activities; supervise the units that are already supporting graduate and undergraduate programs and processes, including the assignment of teaching and of teaching and learning assistants; guide the processes associated with curriculum updates and new initiatives; and interact as needed with faculty and administrators at other campuses that offer IST undergraduate programs.
“In merging graduate and undergraduate studies, we are adopting the model of some near-neighbor units (e.g., engineering, education, communication) and hoping to better leverage graduate students and their research training in undergraduate activities,” Rosson said.
Finally, Peter Forster, a senior lecturer in security and risk analysis (SRA), is now associate dean for online and professional education and information technology. In this role, he will represent the College of IST in university-level online education and outreach activities; supervise the instructional design and online education program management groups for IST, SRA and the several MPS degrees; coordinate with the resident education programs to integrate and leverage teaching, curriculum and assessment efforts; develop and lead innovations in online education objectives and delivery, including professional offerings; and supervise the information and computing technology infrastructure for administrative, office, classroom and research computing.
“By creating an associate dean appointment in the area of online education, we are positioning ourselves to lead Penn State and others in the integration and innovation of online education alongside more traditional academic functions,” Rosson said.