Leadership Transition

Leadership Transition

Statement from Dr. John G. Harris

April 26, 2022

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be leaving UF. I’ve spent most of my professional life at UF—29 years, including 13 years as department chair. But it’s time for a new challenge. On July 1, I will begin my new role as the dean of the College of Engineering & Science at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) in Melbourne. I am fortunate to have worked with so many wonderful students, faculty, and staff during my time as department chair. It has been the honor of my life.

It is typical of leaders to brag about their accomplishments as they move on so I will do the same. With the help of wonderful students, faculty, and staff, the ECE Department has flourished during the past 13 years. Some notable ECE Department successes during this time include:

  • The number of tenured/tenure-track faculty grew by 50% reaching 55 tenured/tenure-track faculty, the largest in our history. We also increased our number of instructional faculty from 2 to 5. Finally, we recruited 4 tenure-track assistant professors starting in Fall 2022. With all this faculty growth, there was a marked improvement in faculty diversity: the number of female faculty rose from 3 to 11 and the number of Black faculty rose from 1 to 3. 
  • Department research expenditures grew by a factor of 2.5, reaching a historic high of $25.6M last fiscal year. ECE’s research expenditures are now the highest in the college and among the highest of any department in the university. 
  • The undergraduate EE and CPE Curriculum were both modernized and simplified during this time. The EE curriculum now includes a second programming course and a required course in data science.  
  • ECE embraced the implementation of several educational innovations, including early adoption of the ‘flipped classroom’ model in 2010. Under the new approach, student performance was demonstrably better, with fewer failures and dropouts. Flipped teaching spread to 5 other courses in ECE and to other courses throughout HWCOE. 
  • Fundraising has flourished with help from phenomenal ECE alumni. Since July 2014, ECE has raised over $14M with five gifts of $1M+. Corporate support totaled $2.4M over the same. ECE faculty holding endowments of $1M or larger more than doubled (3 -> 7) and several new $500K rising star professorships and two $100K faculty fellow endowments were also secured.  
  • ECE alumni have paved the way for two new engineering buildings: the Herbert Wertheim Laboratory for Engineering Excellence and Malachowsky Hall for Data Science and Information Technology
  • EE graduate program rankings jumped up 10 places to #25 among all universities. This is our best ranking in 25 years. We are now #14 among all public universities. 

Finally, I am most proud of helping to foster an inclusive, collegial, and respectful environment for faculty, staff, and students. It has been a true pleasure for me to lead the department. I believe I am leaving the department in great shape and I look forward to seeing how ECE will climb to even greater heights after I leave. I certainly have big challenges ahead and I want everyone to know that even though I will soon become a Panther, I will always be a Gator!  

John Harris