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Joseph B. Hughes to Conclude Role as Dean of Engineering

Dear Colleague:

In a mutual decision, the dean of Drexel’s College of Engineering, Joseph B. Hughes, will conclude his tenure as dean at the end of the calendar year. After a discussion about the many accomplishments over the dean’s five-year term and looking at the needs of the College moving forward, we agreed that the College is in good place for a leadership transition.  Dean Hughes will remain as director of the A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment, as well as providing leadership towards the University’s ongoing efforts in Peace Engineering at Drexel.

Giuseppe Palmese, PhD, professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has agreed to serve as interim dean starting Jan. 1, 2017.

Dean Hughes was appointed to his College of Engineering post in November 2011. He came to Drexel from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was the Karen and John Huff School chair and professor of civil, environmental and materials science engineering.

Prior to his time at Georgia Tech, Joe was the George R. Brown Chair of Engineering at Rice University. He was active in the National Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Engineering program as a speaker and organizer; is a Diplomat (by Eminence) of the American Academy of Environmental Engineering; and formerly served on the U.S. EPA science advisory committee on environmental engineering. Joe has been recognized with national awards in his field, and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental engineering from the University of Iowa, with an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Cornell College.

Looking back on his move to Drexel, Joe recalls his excitement and pride upon “taking a position in a storied college central to the mission of Drexel University.” That enthusiasm for his new assignment has been apparent in his accomplishments while at the College of Engineering. Joe and his team shepherded an increase in undergraduate enrollment, which hit a peak two years ago; welcomed an incoming class last fall with record-high grade averages and SAT scores; strengthened the College’s financial position; and increased fundraising to nearly $10 million this year.

In addition, under Joe’s stewardship the College completed lab renovations in the Bossone Research Enterprise Center, as well as other ongoing improvements to teaching and research labs for engineering. The U.S. News & World Report 2017 “Best Colleges” rankings placed Drexel’s undergraduate engineering program 53rd in the nation among universities offering doctoral degrees.

We extend our profound thanks to Joe for his leadership of the College of Engineering, and we look forward to working with him, as well Giuseppe, in meeting our goals for the College and Drexel as a whole.


John A. Fry                                         M. Brian Blake, PhD

President                                             Executive Vice President and Provost