Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 14, 1997

Whiting Dean
To Leave Post
In June

Departure: Don Giddens
to teach, conduct research
at Georgia Tech

Dennis O'Shea
Special to The Gazette

Leave it to an engineering dean to explain his school's success in terms of a lab experiment.

"A dean can be either an inhibitor or a catalyst in the chemical reaction," said Don P. Giddens, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering at Hopkins since 1992. "But you can't make the reaction without the ingredients."

And the chief ingredient in the growth, in size and quality, of the Whiting School in the past few years has been its faculty, Giddens said.

"The faculty is the core of what you are able to do," Giddens said.

Giddens announced last week he will leave Hopkins this summer to return to biomedical engineering teaching and research at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

"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."

Giddens, 56, is a three-degree graduate of Georgia Tech and spent almost all his professional life there before coming to 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 school has become involved in or established eight new interdisciplinary centers in such fields as language and speech processing, materials science, geometric computing, nanostructures and microelectronics.

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," President William R. Brody said. "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."

An interim dean will be appointed to lead the school from the time of Giddens' departure until the conclusion of a national search for his successor, Brody said.

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