Andrew Sears Named New Dean Of College Of Information Sciences And Technology

Andrew L. Sears, currently the dean of the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, will take over as Penn State’s dean of Information Sciences and Technology on July 11, Penn State announced today.

If approved by the University Board of Trustees at its March 20 meeting, Sears will succeed David Hall, who returned to faculty in fall 2014. Sears, a native of Newton, Massachusetts, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his Bachelor of Science and doctorate degree in computer science, respectively. He has served on the faculty at RIT, DePaul University, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“I cannot imagine a more exciting intellectual space than the intersection of people, technology and information, and I am excited to be joining the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology,” said Sears. “I can’t wait to begin working with the faculty, staff and students to build on the very strong foundation established by my predecessors.”

Sears has served as a dean and professor at RIT since 2011, where he founded the first academic department in the United States focused exclusively on computing security as well as supporting faculty efforts to revise existing programs and develop new ones, including minors, in a variety of topics. Sears has also created seed and strategic funding programs that support the faculty in their efforts to increase research and funding, resulting in a significant increase in external funding in less than four years.

During his tenure at RIT, Sears has encouraged the creation of a “computing explorations” program, which allows newly admitted undergrads the opportunity to discover the various computing programs the college has to offer. In a separate effort to increase the representation of women in RIT’s computing programs, Sears initiated the revitalization of the school’s Woman in Computing program.

Sears’ research focuses on human-centered computing and accessibility, including projects centered around issues that arise with mobile computing, health information technologies, speech recognition, and daily interactions with information technologies. His work has fostered support from industry leaders, government agencies, and other foundations, including IBM, Intel, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Microsoft, among others.

“Attracting someone with Andrew Sears’ experience and credentials is a major benefit to Penn State,” said Nicholas Jones, executive vice president and provost at Penn State. “He has demonstrated his ability to lead and innovate in a field that changes and evolves very rapidly.”

Apart from RIT, Sears is heavily involved with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), where he served as a Council member and is a founding editor-in-chief of the ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing. He is on the editorial boards of the ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing as well as the ACM Transactions on Human Computer Interaction. Sears is also on the board of directors of the Computing Research Association.

Sears has received multiple awards and honors, including the ACM Distinguished Scientist Award in 2010, the IBM Faculty Award, ACM’s SIGACCESS Recognition of Service Award for accessible computing, and ACM’s SIGCHI Recognition of Service Award for computer-human interaction.

“I have little doubt that under his leadership, the College of Information Sciences and Technology will continue to advance to even greater heights,” added Jones.

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Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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