1. Waco Tribune-Herald: Baylor names new dean of engineering school

May 17, 2012

Article reprinted with the permission of The Waco Tribune-Herald.

By REGINA DENNIS

Tuesday May 15, 2012

Texas A&M University professor Dennis O'Neal has been named the new dean of Baylor University's School of Engineering and Computer Science.

O'Neal, the Holdredge-Paul endowed professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean of research for A&M's Dwight Look College of Engineering, will begin his new duties at Baylor on Aug. 6.

The change in leadership comes as Baylor continues to amp up its focus on engineering and sciences.

Texas A&M University professor Dennis O'Neal will begin his new duties at Baylor on Aug. 6.

Texas A&M professor Dennis O'Neal will begin his new duties at Baylor's School of Engineering and Computer Science on Aug. 6.

Elizabeth Davis, executive vice president and provost, said current dean Ben Kelly announced his intention to step down from leading the school and return to teaching mechanical engineering.

That presented both a challenge and opportunity to find a replacement with the experience and vision to help advance Baylor's ambitious academic and research goals for its engineering and science offerings, Davis said.

"Dr. O'Neal has years of experience in hiring and mentoring faculty, in getting grants, working with industry, and mentoring master's and doctoral-level students," Davis said. "He knows what it is that Baylor needs to do to increase the programs and opportunities within the school, and he knows the right way to go about it."

Baylor's new Pro Futuris strategic vision plan calls for increased spending and support for engineering and science programs.

Davis said new graduate engineering and computer science programs will be added in the coming years as the university continues to hire new faculty members.

Doctoral program

The engineering and computer science school already has added five graduate programs during the past decade, including a doctoral degree program in electrical and computer engineering in 2010 and four master's programs in 2004.

Also, the number of engineering and computer science faculty members has also more than doubled in that time.

The graduate research programs in engineering will soon be moved to the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative, a 330,000-square-foot research park and high-tech complex the university is heading.

The BRIC also will house the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research, or CASPER, a joint research effort between Baylor and Texas State Technical College.

"Because we continue to make moves, we continue to grow in ways that expand the school, we needed to have someone that understood what we were proposing for the BRIC and what we need to do," Davis said.

O'Neal, who began his teaching career at A&M in 1983, is the deputy director of the university's Texas Engineering Experiment Station. He previously served as the head of the mechanical engineering department.

O'Neal said he is excited about the opportunity to help build Baylor's graduate and research efforts, and praised the potential for the BRIC to aid in recruiting esteemed faculty.

He said he also finds Baylor's commitment to blending Christian faith into scholarship and research appealing.

"It's a young program and it's grown fairly rapidly in the last decade, and most of the growth has been in the undergraduate program," O'Neal said.

"I have a lot of history here with graduate programs, and obviously A&M is a tier-one research university. Bringing that experience to a place like Baylor, I was very attracted to what they want to accomplish there and thought I'd be a good fit for what they want to do."