January 23, 1997
University Gazette


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Paul Martin To Step Down as Dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences

After 20 years as Dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Paul C. Martin, the John H. Van Vleck Professor of Pure and Applied Physics, has announced his decision to step down from the deanship. He intends to pursue teaching and research while continuing to guide the development of information technology and some research and educational initiatives across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

"Much as I enjoy carrying the torch for Engineering and the Applied Sciences," said Martin, "the time has come to pass it on to someone else -- someone who will lead the way in the coming decade as Harvard builds the educational and research programs a great university must have in an increasingly technological world."

"Paul Martin has served the Division with formidable dedication and skill over two decades," FAS Dean Jeremy Knowles said. "He has analyzed and guided all aspects of education and research in the sciences, and he has advised and supported three successive Deans of the Faculty. His extraordinary energy and deep wisdom have both shaped the growth of the Division and refined the research policies of the Faculty.

"I am most grateful that he has agreed, after stepping down from the Division, to continue to steer the transformation of teaching and research that is being brought about by the new methods of information technology," Knowles said.

In a letter to the Division's faculty, Knowles has announced his intention to seek advice from faculty from Harvard and elsewhere on possible candidates to succeed Martin, who has agreed to serve until the new Dean is in place.

Martin was appointed Dean of the Division in January 1977, 20 years after joining the Faculty as an assistant professor of physics. Under Martin's leadership, research and educational programs in materials science and engineering, in computer science and engineering, and in the atmospheric and environmental sciences have reached new levels, and Harvard's historic commitment to engineering has been renewed.

Major interdisciplinary activities in each of these fields extend well beyond the Division and the FAS. In addition to theoretical research, faculty and students from Harvard and collaborators from other institutions make use of major experimental instruments and facilities -- from accelerators and tunneling microscopes to characterize unusual materials, to balloons and aircraft to detect chemical changes in the environment, and to robots, integrated circuits, and high-speed digital networks. Graduate students in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences receive degrees in applied mathematics, applied physics, computer science, or engineering sciences.

Sixty faculty members hold appointments in the Division. These include joint appointments with Astronomy, Chemistry, Earth and Planetary Physics, Mathematics, and Physics. A testament to the close links between the pure and applied sciences fostered during Martin's tenure are single, jointly staffed undergraduate programs in Physics, and the recently established concentrations in Earth and Planetary Sciences and in Environmental Science and Public Policy.

Within the Division, a concentration in computer science was created, and honors A.B. and S.B. programs in engineering sciences were rebuilt. In 1995-96, 370 undergraduates were enrolled in concentrations in applied mathematics, computer science, and engineering sciences, nearly 60 percent more than in 1989-90.

The growth of undergraduate interest in engineering and applied science and the increasing importance of these disciplines in the Faculty were reflected in the FAS Academic Plan in 1992, which called for significant additions of faculty and facilities. A major step toward these goals was taken last year with the $25 million gift from Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer (both Class of '77), which will make possible the construction of a new building for computer science and electrical engineering. A faculty planning committee, chaired by Martin, is now defining the scope and function of this long-anticipated addition to the Faculty's facilities.

Martin, who holds bachelor's and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard, joined the faculty in 1957 and was promoted to professor of physics in 1964. In 1982 he became the first occupant of the Van Vleck chair, named for one of Harvard's most distinguished physicists. Martin's work has been in the area of condensed matter theory.

"The past 20 years have been challenging and tremendously rewarding," Martin wrote in a letter to colleagues this week. "I've told Jeremy [Knowles] that I'll stay until the new Dean is selected and takes office. After that, I won't be very far away -- in my Lyman office. Indeed, I expect that I'll be calling on many of you to help me on a wide range of initiatives involving information technology."


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College