Mary Cunningham Boyce Appointed Dean of Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science

March 26, 2013Bookmark and Share

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger today announced his appointment of Mary Cunningham Boyce as the new Dean of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, effective July 1, 2013. Professor Boyce comes to Columbia after more than 25 years at MIT, where she is currently the Ford Professor of Engineering and Department Head of Mechanical Engineering.

Mary Cunningham Boyce
Mary Cunningham Boyce

“Columbia is fortunate to welcome such an impressive dean at a time of both signal accomplishment and new opportunity for our School of Engineering and Applied Science as it approaches its 150th anniversary,” said Bollinger. “Professor Boyce has distinguished herself throughout her academic career not only as a scholar but also as a teacher and mentor driven by an abiding commitment to nurturing the next generation of engineers.”

Professor Boyce’s research interests include the molecular and nanomechanics of polymers, soft composites and soft tissues—studying the elastic, thermal and kinetic properties of physical systems at the nanometer scale. Her leadership in the field of the mechanics of materials, both those that are manufactured and those formed naturally, has expanded understanding of the interplay between micro-geometry and the inherent physical behavior of a material, which has led to innovative hybrid material designs. Models and results from Professor Boyce’s group have the potential to influence a range of industrial and academic fields from polymer processing to composite material design, tire mechanics, biological cells and tissues. Her expertise will further enhance Columbia’s strength in the study of nanotechnology and nanomaterials.

“Columbia’s convergence of talented individuals from diverse disciplines positions it as a focal point for innovation,” said Boyce, “Our society has become both more inspired by and more demanding of engineers’ role in developing solutions to some of the most pressing global challenges, and working together we can be instrumental in building that future. The next decade offers unique opportunities to further expand the excellence and impact of the school. I am excited to be part of that future.”

The author of more than 150 publications with her group, Boyce is well known for her collaborative work and leadership in overseeing research teams that bring together faculty from different departments and universities. She has received numerous honors in recognition of her scholarly achievements, including election as a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering.

Boyce has also been honored for her teaching at MIT, where she was named the MacVicar Faculty Fellow for outstanding teaching, mentoring and educational innovation and received the Joseph Henry Keenan Innovation in Undergraduate Education Award. She also served on the MIT Engineering Council and the MIT International Advisory Council. She received a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Virginia Tech in 1981 and then a master of science from MIT in 1983, where she also earned her Ph.D. in 1987.

Over the past decade, the School of Engineering and Applied Science has steadily risen both in national standing and in its significance at Columbia as the University pursues an increasingly interdisciplinary academic mission in both the laboratory and the classroom. The school has forged a wide range of research partnerships with Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and other schools on the Morningside campus that have generated important discoveries.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science has long been a leader in offering respected degrees through distance learning at a moment when online courses are becoming an important new part of higher education. With seed funding from the City of New York, the University is launching a new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering at the school that will not only build on the pioneering work of scholars across several critical areas of an information-rich economy and society, but also provide a new platform for significant growth of the school’s faculty in the years ahead. Engineering faculty also plays a key leadership role at the Earth Institute, developing critical solutions for a more sustainable environment. Columbia’s new Northwest Corner Building—where engineers are working together with other researchers in several innovative lab groups across diverse disciplines—and the long-term development of the Manhattanville campus offer new opportunities for the expansion of the school’s research and teaching.

“While still relatively small in size, the percentage of our engineering faculty elected to the national academies of Engineering and Sciences would rank Columbia among the nation’s top five engineering schools,” Bollinger said. “I have every confidence that Mary Boyce will provide the kind of leadership and vision to make the most of the remarkable talent and dedication that exist at Columbia Engineering.”

—by Columbia News Staff

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The Record