Our leaders in academia

Fall 2022 Inventing tomorrow

They all have something in common: All of them hold a degree from the University of Minnesota. Presidents, vice presidents, a first lady (twice!), current deans of engineering programs...

These highly regarded leaders in higher education think big, take risks, and work hard.

Their research universities support jobs, fuel economic activity in their states, and yield discoveries that improve our quality of life. Yet, despite extremely busy schedules, they are well aware of the impact their alma mater—the University of Minnesota—has had on their lives.

Five of these UMN College of Science and Engineering alumni offered insights into lessons learned on the Twin Cities campus: Robert Brown (ChE Ph.D. ’79), Jayathi Murthy (ME Ph.D. ’84), Noel Schulz (EE Ph.D. ’95), Prabhas Moghe (ChE Ph.D. ’93), and Dawn Tilbury (EE ’89).

Impact of the Top 5 leaders quoted below

$11.3 billion+

in state economic activity generated by their universities

$3.7 billion

spent on research and development that fuels innovation 


enrolled students/future leaders their institutions teach

* Totals based on FY 2020-22 data 

Robert Brown

Robert Brown (ChE Ph.D.’79)

President, Boston University; former provost of MIT

“It was during my doctoral thesis, studying with Skip Scriven in the chemical engineering and material science department, that I learned how to do independent research. The combination of classroom education, mentorship, and intellectual freedom I received shaped me as a researcher and future faculty member.”

Photo by Scott Nobles for Boston University Photography

Jayathi Muthy

Jayathi Murthy (ME Ph.D. ’84)

President of Oregon State University; former dean at UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science

“I had a wonderful and productive time at the University of Minnesota. My advisor, Prof. Suhas Patankar, was a terrific mentor. His great talent was simplicity—how to think clearly and simply about complex things. It is an approach that has served me well as my responsibilities have increased. And I was a part of a warm and collaborative graduate student group; we remain friends to this day!”

Photo credit: Oregon State University

Eric Kaler headshot

Eric Kaler (ChE Ph.D.’82)

President, Case Western Reserve University; former president, University of Minnesota

Kaler became the 11th president of Case Western Reserve University on July 1, 2021. He previously served as president of the University of Minnesota from 2011-19 and professor of chemical engineering and materials science from 2011-21. Kaler’s career in higher education spans more than 40 years. It includes leadership and faculty roles at premier public research universities.

Photo credit: Case Western Reserve University

Prabhas Moghe

Prabhas Moghe (ChE Ph.D. ’93)

Executive vice president for academic affairs/chief academic officer, Rutgers University

“The five years spent at the University of Minnesota laid the foundations of my career-long pursuit of interdisciplinary scholarship and inclusive leadership.”

Photo credit: Rutgers University/Nick Romanenko

Noel Schulz

Noel Schulz (EE Ph.D.’95)

First lady of Washington State University, co-director of WSU-PNNL Advanced Grid Institute, and Edmund O. Schweitzer III Chair in Power Apparatus and Systems at WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

“One of the most impactful activities for me at the University of Minnesota was the Women Graduate Students in IT* lunches. The faculty panels and other professional development activities provided a foundation for my leadership background and insights into integrating professional and personal activities, as well as resilience through challenges in academic life. Also, networking with other women graduate students established connections that I still use today.”  

Photo by Bob Huebner, WSU Photo Service

* known as Institute of Technology, or IT, before 2010

Dawn Tilbury

Dawn Tilbury (EE ’89)

Associate vice president for research and chair, Robotics Department, University of Michigan

“At the U, I got leadership experience as an ‘IT Tutor’ * and as co-president of the Society of Women Engineers. I was one of the first class of honors students at the college, and I did a research project during my senior year.”

Photo credit: Michigan Engineering

* known as Institute of Technology, or IT, before 2010


More University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering alumni leaders across the United States: 

  • Amy Fleischer (ME Ph.D.’00), dean, College of Engineering, California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

  • Nancy Lape (ChE Ph.D. ‘04), chair, Department of Engineering, Harvey Mudd College

  • Corey LeClerc (ChE Ph.D. ’03), dean of engineering, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

  • Julio Ottino (ChE Ph.D. ’79), dean, Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Northwestern University

  • Jodi Prosise (BME, Ph.D.’10), assistant dean, College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science at UW-Platteville and chair, mechanical and industrial engineering department

  • Liz Orwin (BME M.S. ’98, Ph.D. ’00) dean, School of Engineering and Computer Science, University of the Pacific

  • Mark Lundstrom (EE ’73, M.S.’74), interim dean, College of Engineering, Purdue University

Did we miss anyone?

If you are a CSE alumna or alumnus serving an academic leadership role in the United States, please let us know: csemagazine@umn.edu.

Digital map of the world


Alumni from the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering are also making an impact in academia outside the United States.

If you are a CSE alumna or alumnus serving an academic leadership role, and we missed you, please send us an email: csemagazine@umn.edu.