Lawrence Larson steps down as Dean of Brown’s first engineering school


PROVIDENCE, RI [Brown University] – Lawrence E. Larson, the first dean of Brown University School of Engineering who guided its spectacular growth in its first decade, will step down as dean effective June 30, 2022 to return to teaching and research as a member of the Brown faculty.

During his tenure as Dean, Larson oversaw a strong expansion in the number of tenure-track engineering professors, substantial increases in external research funding, the creation of new graduate programs and the construction of a cutting-edge research and teaching center. establishment. University President Richard M. Locke said that by stepping down from the role of Dean, Larson is leaving an indelible legacy at the University.

“Larry far exceeded all expectations, making the young engineering school a leader in the field,” Locke said. “As Provost for the past six years, I have been honored to work closely with Larry and have been impressed by his leadership – his intellectual genius, his collaborative vision and his commitment to excellence. He leaves a lasting legacy, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

“Infinite Possibility,” a student-designed sundial sculpture, was placed on the lawn in front of Brown’s new Engineering Research Center in 2019.

Larson arrived at Brown in 2011, less than a year after the old engineering division was expanded to become the school of engineering. He had been a pioneering researcher in microelectronic technology and wireless communications, and was chairman of the department of electrical and computer engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. At Brown, he was tasked with leading the transition from the Ivy League’s oldest engineering program to a full-fledged engineering school with high impact research and teaching programs.

During his ten-year tenure, Larson has helped raise more than $ 150 million for School of Engineering projects, including the award-winning Engineering Research Center, a research and teaching space of 90,000 square feet which opened in 2017. It has played a vital role in planning the design and construction of the facility, ensuring that it meets the needs of 21st engineering researchers of the century.

“For much of the last century, engineering has focused on the macro-scale – rockets, bridges and giant machines,” Larson said when the new facility opened in 2015. “But today , engineers are increasingly working at the scale of a few atoms. Research at the nanoscale requires entirely new types of facilities, equipment and spaces. “

Image of a research laboratory
ERC’s state-of-the-art laboratories enable 21st century engineering research.

The ERC has 20 laboratory modules designed to support research groups, two state-of-the-art clean rooms and an electron microscopy room. The spaces have been designed to support the school’s long-standing and emerging research strengths, including the Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation, the Center for Biomedical Engineering, the Superfund Research Program Center and a dynamic research group in mechanics. fluids.

Larson also oversaw a 40% increase in the number of tenure-track engineering professors, which is now the largest in its history. New faculty members expand research in key growth areas such as biomedical and environmental engineering, and strengthen long-standing strengths in mechanical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, chemical engineering, as well as science materials. External research funding has almost doubled over the past 10 years and now stands at around $ 24 million per year.

Increased support for graduate students and community engagement

Larson is committed to engaging directly with donors to gain support for the school, and his fundraising efforts have helped establish nine new endowed chairs as well as expanded graduate and postdoctoral fellowships.

“Larry is such an open and friendly leader who integrated into engineering so easily that it can be easy to forget how much he has guided the school since 2010,” said Rod Beresford, professor of engineering at Brown since 1990. “A true collaborative academic colleague, Larry immediately understood the special blend of engaged learners, interdisciplinary projects and consensus-based governance in engineering at Brown. None of that has changed, but we’ve made giant strides that many thought were unlikely at the time, especially in fundraising, faculty building and research, expanding into a fantastic new facility. and attracting a larger and more diverse flow of graduate students. . “

The school’s graduate programs doubled enrollment during Larson’s tenure, and he oversaw the creation of three new master’s programs in technology leadership, design engineering and engineering, and computer science based on them. data. Other student-centric projects include the creation of the Brown Design Workshop, a premier creative space at Prince Lab that has nearly 1,000 regular users from all parts of the campus and the community. It now serves as the hub for our joint master’s program with the Rhode Island School of Design and as an undergraduate education center for a wide range of on-campus programs including engineering, computer science, arts and crafts. theater and others.

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