Mary Rezac has announced her resignation as dean of Washington State University’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture (VCEA), effective Feb. 23, 2024. Rezac will join the University of Kansas as the dean of the School of Engineering on March 1, 2024.
“Dr. Rezac has been an exemplary leader for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture and Washington State University,” said Elizabeth Chilton, provost and executive vice president. “President Schulz and I greatly appreciate Mary’s steadfast commitment to the university and her impactful leadership during her nearly seven-year tenure as dean.”
Provost Chilton has named Partha Pande as interim dean, effective Feb. 12, 2024. Pande will serve until a permanent dean is hired. A national search will launch in January 2024.
Under Rezac’s leadership, Voiland improved its student recruitment and retention efforts — ranking second among all WSU colleges in undergraduate enrollment. Rezac’s focus on equity and inclusion has allowed the college to make marked improvements in representation among women and other underrepresented STEM student groups.
Voiland saw its research funding and peer-reviewed publications increase with Rezac at the helm, allowing it to maintain its fiscal health amid turbulent headwinds across higher education. The college’s research activities also saw significant growth and impact during this period. During Rezac’s tenure, VCEA became the home of the NSF Center on Artificial Intelligence (AgAID); through the Consortium for Hydrogen and Renewably Generated E-fuels, it is playing a critical role in the PNW Hydrogen Hub and related activities; it has strengthened its leadership position in catalysis research, water resource management, advanced manufacturing, and next-generation microelectronic chip design; it has expanded industry-engaged research and development including efforts focused on energy-wise construction; and it has fostered significant relationships with partner organizations, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.
Rezac was also instrumental in securing $80 million in funding for the new Schweitzer Engineering Hall, beginning with a $20 million gift from Edmund and Beatriz Schweitzer and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. The new building, scheduled to open in 2026, will serve as Voiland’s central hub for students to innovate and collaborate with their colleagues and faculty en route to successful careers after graduation.
Pande, meanwhile, has served as a key member of the college’s leadership team and is well positioned for the transition to interim dean.
He has served as director for WSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science since 2018 and a professor and the Boeing Centennial Chair in Computer Engineering since 2013.
“I am grateful for Dr. Pande’s willingness to serve as interim dean for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture,” said Chilton. “He has been an instrumental senior member of Dean Rezac’s leadership cabinet, and I am confident he will be able to continue the positive trajectory and momentum of the college.”
Pande has been a faculty member at WSU since 2005. He earned his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of British Columbia in 2005. He received an NSF Career Award in 2009 and Voiland College’s Anjan Bose Outstanding Researcher Award in 2013. Pande is a fellow of IEEE.
Additionally, Professor Jason Peschel has also been tapped to lead Voiland College’s facilities modernization efforts. Peschel serves as the director of the School of Design and Construction and has over a decade of experience in the construction industry. He is currently serving on the Schweitzer Hall executive committee. Effective Jan. 1, 2024, Peschel will lead the college’s efforts for the design and funding of future capital projects.