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February 21, 2002

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   Denine Hagen, (858) 534-2920 or


UCSD Chancellor Robert C. Dynes announced today that he has accepted the request of Robert W. Conn to step down as Dean of the Irwin and Joan Jacobs School of Engineering and return to his position as professor of engineering on July 1, 2002. Conn has led the Jacobs School since January of 1994.

"Under Dean Conn's remarkable leadership, the Jacobs School has risen to the ranks of the top ten public engineering schools in the nation," said Dynes. "As a campus we are indebted to the dedication and contributions of this exceptionally distinguished educational leader."

"A great university is built around great faculty. Dean Conn was responsible for recruiting 55 outstanding faculty to join UCSD and the Jacobs School," said Marsha Chandler, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. "He leaves a legacy that will ensure the quality of UCSD's engineering education program for decades to come."

During his eight-year term, Conn strategically led the Jacobs School through an unprecedented period of growth marked by a 60 percent increase in faculty, 70 percent increase in graduate students, and a 50 percent growth in undergraduates. The School currently has 146 faculty, 3,855 undergraduates and 853 graduate students with plans to add an additional 100 faculty, and increase student enrollment to 4,500 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students.

"This is the right time to step down for me and for the Jacobs School," said Conn. "With as much as has been accomplished, there is still much more to do. Over the next nine years, UCSD will continue to grow at a robust rate, and engineering on our campus will continue to grow along with it. This mid-point in our trajectory towards steady state is therefore the right time for me to step down as Dean, and for the campus to search for, and appoint, a leader to carry the School the rest of the way. The national reputation of the Jacobs School of Engineering, of UCSD, and of the San Diego community makes this an enviable position that will attract engineering leaders from throughout the country."

Among his many accomplishments, Conn was pivotal to the establishment of the Center for Wireless Communications, the Powell Foundation Award and the Whitaker Leadership Award in support of the new Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. He also helped UCSD win the highly competitive National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure and the Distributed Terascale Facility at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. Under his watch, the Jacob School's annual research funding has grown from $33 million to $112 million, and the School now ranks third in the nation in the average research funding per faculty.

Similarly, under Dean Conn's leadership, the average annual private support for the Jacobs School has doubled, with over $145 million raised during his tenure. A hallmark of his accomplishments is his outreach to industry, and his commitment to ensuring that engineering discoveries be transferred to the commercial sector for the public good. He established the Corporate Affiliates Program at the School, which now includes 50 members. With a gift from the William J. von Liebig Foundation, Conn established the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement.

Conn's impact on engineering education has been equally significant. Among other achievements, he led an advisory council to President Atkinson that resulted in increased engineering funding and enrollments throughout the UC system.

Conn's academic career spans more than three decades. Prior to joining UCSD in 1994, Conn served as Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences and founding Director of the Institute of Plasma and Fusion Research at the University of California, Los Angeles. During his time at UCLA, he co- founded Plasma & Materials Technologies (now Trikon Technologies), and served on the Board of Directors until mid-1994. He joined UCLA in 1980 after holding the Romnes Faculty Professorial Chair at the University of Wisconsin, where he was on the faculty from 1970 to 1979. At Wisconsin, he helped establish the university's program in fusion energy technology and directed the University of Wisconsin Fusion Technology Program from 1974 to 1979.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Conn's numerous awards include the Outstanding Research Achievement Award from the American Nuclear Society in 1979; the Curtis W. McGraw Research Award from the American Society of Engineering Education in 1982; the Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award from the U.S. Department of Energy on behalf of the President in 1984; the Career Leadership Award from Fusion Power Associates in 1992; the Distinguished Associate Award in 1996 from the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Department of Energy; the Distinguished Engineering Educator Award from the Engineering Societies of San Diego, 1997; and the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998 from the California Institute of Technology. He is a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Nuclear Society.

UCSD will work to ensure a smooth transition and will immediately begin a national search for the next Dean for the Jacobs School of Engineering.

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