The dean of the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science, Krishnaswami “Hari” Srihari, will step down at the conclusion of the 2024 academic year.
Appointed to the position in 2009, Srihari had originally planned to leave in 2018. However, a hiring hold hindered the search for a successor, and after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic he agreed to remain as dean. He first joined Watson College in the department of systems science and industrial engineering in 1988, and acted as department chair from 2003 to 2009.
Donald Hall, Binghamton University’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said Watson College has seen significant growth since Srihari took on the role.
“Since 2009, overall enrollment has grown from 1729 students to 3404,” Hall wrote in an email. “Of that, graduate school enrollment — which has been a priority for the University — has grown from 721 to 1259. Just in the past decade, full-time faculty has grown from 88 to 118. A clear indicator of the extraordinary success of his faculty is that 19 of them have received NSF Career Awards, the highest recognition available for early career faculty.”
During Srihari’s tenure as dean, graduate programs at Watson College reached up to #95 in U.S. News & World Report’s graduate rankings, according to BingUNews. Additionally, Watson College appointed a director of diversity programs and initiatives in 2014 — later raised to an assistant dean rank in 2020. Srihari added that since he took up the position, Watson College has increased its space footprint, improved infrastructure, enhanced the quality and quantity of educational facilities and increased investments in the development of its students, staff and faculty.
Srihari will remain at his post until the new dean arrives, according to Hall. This includes continuing to oversee the hiring of new professors in Watson College and continuing to lead its research initiatives. New faculty will also be added to the college over the next year, and it will continue to have strong ties to industry, alumni and the research community.
On the search for a new dean, Hall discussed the various factors to consider throughout the process.
“I want someone who will build on Dean Srihari’s success over the past decade,” Hall wrote in an email. “Watson [College] is on a remarkable trajectory and the next dean will be a leader, mentor, world-class researcher and supporter of student success, just as Dean Srihari was.”
Srihari expressed pleasure to have worked for BU President Harvey Stenger and Hall, and commented that the caliber of the Watson College faculty and staff is “superb,” and that their goal should always be to do their very best for their principal customer — their students.
After he leaves the role of dean, Srihari expressed intent to return to Watson College’s systems science and industrial engineering department.
“In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses, I will continue to work with graduate students,” Srihari wrote in an email. “Furthermore, it would be an honor to continue to serve our campus in any way that I can.”
Stenger also wished Srihari the best, in the BingUNews announcement of Srihari’s impending departure. Stenger said that a standard was set as dean, and that he is glad that Srihari will still continue for this next year.
While she stated her interactions with the dean were very few, Clara Rodriguez, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering, described Srihari as a “very caring person.”
“He is extremely passionate about equipping students for success, and he also is considerate toward his colleagues,” Rodriguez said. “From networking opportunities to simply helping clear plates off a table at an event, his compassion for others and humility speak volumes about his character.”
Frankie Rumreich, a freshman majoring in computer science, weighed in on the traits he would like to see in a new dean of Watson College.
“I’d say transparency is important since changes could affect Watson [College] students,” Rumreich said. “They should also pick someone who weighs student interest into their decisions.”