Giddens, Hopkins Engineering Dean, to ResignDon P. Giddens, dean of engineering at The Johns Hopkins University since 1992, will leave Hopkins this summer to return to biomedical engineering teaching and research at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Giddens, 56, is a three-degree graduate of Georgia Tech and spent almost all his professional life there before coming to the G.W.C. Whiting School at Hopkins five years ago. He will return to Georgia Tech July 1, becoming a professor in its Institute of Bioengineering and Biosciences and resuming his laboratory work in cardiovascular fluid mechanics. He is also expected to take a leadership role in the further development of bioengineering at institutions in Atlanta.
"When I came to Hopkins, I told (then-president) Bill Richardson I would be here five to seven years, that I looked at the dean's position as putting in an incredible amount of energy for a period of time and doing everything that you can to accomplish something significant," Giddens said. "I think we have done this."
"Returning now to a faculty position, being more involved with research and with students, is something I will enjoy," he said. "While being dean has been wonderful fun, that's a piece of the academic life that I've missed."
Giddens has been the second dean since Johns Hopkins re-established the School of Engineering in 1979 as an independent division of the university. During his tenure, the school's faculty has grown 29 percent, from 86 to 111, and annual research expenditures have nearly doubled to almost $30 million. Seven junior faculty recruited under Giddens have gone on to win presidential young investigator awards or similarly prestigious young investigator awards from the National Science Foundation or the Office of Naval Research.
The Whiting School has risen from the unranked "second tier" in 1993 to 17th this year in U.S. News & World Report's "Best Graduate School" engineering rankings.
Giddens has also put new emphasis on undergraduate engineering, instituting a new major in computer engineering, and improving the Whiting School's advising and teaching evaluation programs. Through internship programs in central and eastern Europe and a new minor in entrepreneurship and business, the school has sought to help undergraduates understand the global reach of technological change and the role of the engineer in business and society.
"Don Giddens has taken a very young engineering school with tremendous potential and really launched it into national prominence," said William R. Brody, president of The Johns Hopkins University. "The faculty he has recruited and the initiatives he has undertaken in both research and teaching will have a profound and lasting impact on Johns Hopkins and on the Whiting School. I am grateful for his many contributions and accomplishments as dean."
Giddens said the faculty have been the major movers in the school's growth and improvement, and in the the school's involvement in or establishment of eight new interdisciplinary centers in such fields as language and speech processing, materials science, geometric computing, nanostructures and microelectronics.
"It's really the faculty that do that," he said. "A dean can be either an inhibitor or a catalyst in the chemical reaction. But you can't make the reaction without the ingredients."
"This has been a fabulous experience for me," he said. "I have learned so much, about people, about an academic enterprise, about alumni. The engineering alumni are especially loyal to the Whiting School and have been a pleasure to work with. It's been a growing experience for me. It's been fun. Hopkins is a dynamic place."
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