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Houston to Conclude Tenure as College of Sciences Dean
Contact: David Terraso
Aug 16, 2012 | Atlanta, GA
Paul Houston, dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Sciences, will step down from his post on June 30, 2013. After leaving the dean’s position, Houston plans to stay at Tech for a short period to continue his research in physical chemistry and to oversee his graduate students. He plans to retire in 2014. Houston came to Tech in 2007 to assume the dean position after being a professor of chemistry at Cornell University for 32 years.
“Dean Houston has been an extraordinary leader of the sciences at Georgia Tech," said Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Georgia Tech. “He has been an effective leader that leverages our strengths in the sciences and engineering via strategic partnerships and collaborations."
“I’m delighted and honored to have had the opportunity to lead Georgia Tech’s College of Sciences,” said Houston. “We have reached an unprecedented level in terms of research support, faculty talent and teaching achievement, so it is a good time to pass the baton to a new leader.”
Houston said the interdisciplinary nature of the Institute is what drew him to Tech.
“For an Institute to be a place where people can both make new discoveries and build technology that makes use of those findings, there needs to be good communication between scientists and engineers. This seems to happen seamlessly at Georgia Tech,” said Houston. “I’m proud to say I’ve been a part of this spirit of collaboration for the past six years.”
Since arriving, Houston has built up the biosciences, placing an emphasis on biophysics, biochemistry, math biology and molecular biology. In addition, he has been instrumental in expanding the areas of astrophysics and planetary sciences and has placed more emphasis on material sciences, like graphene. During his term, Tech established several major research centers such as the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging, the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics as well as the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, among others.
Not content to simply focus on research, Houston has also improved the education of undergraduates in the sciences at Tech. During his term, the number of science students increased, particularly in the new biochemistry major, and they have been increasingly recognized by outside honors and fellowships. In addition, he both emphasized and rewarded faculty teaching and mentoring.
This summer, he introduced two new positions to the college to focus on undergraduate education. Jennifer Leavey, a new senior academic professional, will bring an interdisciplinary focus to the freshman and sophomore science labs; Director of Diversity Keith Oden, will encourage students to take advantage of research opportunities with faculty.
While dean, Houston expanded the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC), a unit whose goal is to improve K-12 education. Under the direction of Richard Millman, who Houston appointed in 2008, the CEISMC team has more than doubled its external funding and has reached many more K-12 students, improving their education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Houston has also overseen the planning of the Engineered Biosystems Building (EBB), to be located just south of 10th Street between State Street and Atlantic Promenade. This building is just the first of what is designed to be a three-building complex housing research in the biosciences and bioengineering on the north side of campus.
Georgia Tech has engaged a higher education search firm, R. William Funk & Associates, to provide support in conducting an international search for a new dean.