Thursday, June 1, 2023

Ann F. McKenna, vice dean of strategic advancement at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University and professor of engineering in the Polytechnic School, has been named dean of the University of Iowa College of Engineering. She will begin on Aug. 16.

McKenna has been at Arizona State University since August 2010, serving in numerous roles including director of the Polytechnic School, interim vice dean for research and innovation, and chair of the Department of Engineering.

McKenna succeeds Harriet Nembhard, who announced in December 2022 she had been named president of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, and would begin the new role on July 1.

“Dr. McKenna is an accomplished leader, researcher, and teacher, and I am confident her innovative mindset will strengthen and grow the College of Engineering for our students, faculty, and staff,” says Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel. “I am excited by her vision for the college and her plans to enhance partnerships across campus.”

McKenna was one of three finalists invited to the UI campus in late April and early May to interview for the deanship. The search was led by a committee co-chaired by Sara Sanders, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Jun Wang, the James E. Ashton Professor of Engineering and interim department executive officer of the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering.

McKenna earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1988; a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in 1991; and a PhD in engineering education from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2001.

Before joining Arizona State University, McKenna served as a program director at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Undergraduate Education and was the director of education improvement in the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Her research focuses on entrepreneurial thinking in the context of engineering faculty mentorship and curricular innovations, design teaching and learning, and inclusivity in higher education engineering structures, culture, and policies.

In 2019, she was named an American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Fellow for demonstrating outstanding contributions to engineering education. She has twice been the recipient of the ASEE best overall paper award (1998 and 2011), as well as the recipient of the outstanding paper award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers/ASEE Frontiers in Education conference (1997).

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the dean of the College of Engineering. It is clear the University of Iowa is a special place that embodies a collaborative spirit and values working across disciplines to develop innovative and impactful solutions to complex technological challenges,” says McKenna. “I am thrilled to join such a talented and dedicated community to help advance and grow the College of Engineering.”

McKenna’s appointment is pending approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.