I’m really honored to have an opportunity to greet you as the new Fortinet Founders Chair of Management Science & Engineering.
I’ve only been in this job for a few months now and am just getting my feet wet, but have been in MS&E for over 20 years and am happy to call it home. In this brief message, I want to convey my current thoughts about our priorities over the next few years as I take the helm.
On the surface, we have faculty in a variety of areas, but more importantly our faculty are boundary spanners. We have faculty who are passionate about approaching problems from multiple points of view. They often have interdisciplinary backgrounds themselves and regularly seek collaborations that bring together diverse people to work on complex, real-world problems. Students similarly reflect and gravitate toward this diverse and interdisciplinary focus.
Another distinguishing feature of MS&E is that faculty and students work on a multitude of critical societal problems, as you’ll see in our newsletters. We contribute to understanding and informing change in topics as wide ranging as racial bias in police stops and searches, estimating bed demand for COVID-related hospitalizations, and the impact of emerging technologies on work and workers. We are well positioned and central in new initiatives on campus including Human-Centered AI, Data Science, and others.
I have three priorities, all of equal importance.
One priority is to continue to enable faculty, staff, and students to do the amazing work that they’re doing. We have hired seven faculty over the last 5 years and I am proud to say that each and every one of them brings intellectual diversity and strength to MS&E. We need to continue to hire exceptional scholars and staff who bring new ideas and energy.
Another priority is to launch initiatives that have a substantial impact on the diversity of MS&E, including faculty, staff, and students. We recognize that systemic racism and sexism in the field of engineering, and academia more generally, affects our ability to have diverse voices at the table. Look for future newsletter articles on some of our initiatives.
Finally, as a faculty, we see significant opportunity to magnify our impact by resourcing and showcasing a few research initiatives that span the Department. Over the next year, the faculty will be meeting to articulate an updated vision and identify potential initiatives that have broad faculty support.
Of course, of immediate concern is making sure that everyone is safe and healthy and that our students get the best possible education despite these trying times. Resources inside and outside the department are available to that end, including Vaden Health Services, MS&E’s Student Services office, and more. And we welcome students and alumni alike to stay connected with our faculty.
I look forward to sharing more with you as MS&E navigates into the future. We have an active planning committee in place to set the direction for what looks to be a bright future for the department.
For more information about Prof. Hinds and her work, see this announcement of her becoming MS&E's Chair