By now, many of you have heard of my intention to step down from the provost position on or around Sept. 1. The last 10 years as provost at Georgia Tech have been a dream job and now it is time to do something else.
Last Nov. 10, the day before Veterans Day, my wife and I spent two and a half hours horseback riding around Chickamauga National Military Park, the site of a major Civil War battle in 1863. It was a beautiful day, sunny and brisk.
At times, we all feel overwhelmed by circumstances, anxious, alone in our troubles, or desperate. It is important to first recognize that these emotions are common to all of us and make us human. And second, that we do not have to face them alone.
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the most extraordinary engineering and technological feat that the world has ever seen. It was a day like today that Apollo 11 took off on its historic spaceflight to the moon. In my opinion, we have not surpassed that technological feat and will not until humans return to the moon, still some five years away. From a technological and scientific perspective, I believe that there is almost nothing we can’t achieve. The pace of new knowledge and new technology is breathtaking. Unfortunately, even over centuries, our mastery of human relations has not made that much progress.
Our alumni make us proud. Not only are they extremely well-educated entrepreneurs who create wealth for many, but they are great human beings and loyal Georgia Tech alumni who are also providing outstanding services to their alma mater.
I am not a spiritual or religious man. I try hard to be a good man, undoubtedly influenced by my Catholic upbringing and education. It is in that context that I find it particularly horrific to wake up to the news of a terrorist attack on Christian churches in Sri Lanka.
In December 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies convened the American Talent Initiative (ATI). Its goal could not have been loftier: to, by 2025, add 50,000 low- and moderate-income students to the ranks of universities or four-year colleges with a six-year bachelor’s graduation rate of at least 70%. Georgia Tech was among the first 30 ATI members.
When I heard that Lin-Manuel Miranda was to resume the lead role and stage "Hamilton: an American Musical" in Puerto Rico for the benefit of his and my devastated island, my wife, Pat and I decided that we would find a way to attend no matter what it would take.
I never planned to be a university professor. I believe that life is a result of “chance and necessity.” Being at the “right place at the right time” is as much a function of our own designs as it is of chance.
Finding a path forward after tragedy isn’t easy, but we must. Tragedy changes us. We move ahead carrying its scars. But, even scarred, great people and institutions emerge from tragedies with stronger foundations.
A few weeks ago, I attended a talk by Dr. Timothy Shriver, son of R. Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the couple who brought us the Peace Corps and the Special Olympics. His talk was inspiring and captivating. Dr. Shriver’s main message was that each of us is unique, precious, and adds valuable diversity to humanity.
This semester I have been reminded why I chose to be an academic. Despite the joy of research, the excitement of discovery, and the pride at recognition, the main reason I became an academic is to engage with students, particularly in the classroom.
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in an interview about something very near and dear to my heart: the simple yet loaded question of what an education, and engineering education in particular, might look like in the future, and where the discipline as a whole is headed.
Last week we proudly announced that next spring, Georgia Tech will launch its third online professional master’s program. The Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity (OMS Cybersecurity) program follows its successful predecessors — Computer Science (OMS CS) and Analytics (OMS Analytics) — launched in 2013 and 2017, respectively. It is worth a look back to see how we got here.
Why do some events touch the soul of many and elicit the very best of human nature while others do not? When the crisis is one of everyday human suffering, and not a well-publicized natural disaster, how do we keep that spirit alive?
Everything I am and everything I have is due to education. If I learned anything from my parents, it is their single-minded belief that education is the path to liberation for humans. It is the key to wellbeing, freedom, and self-confidence.
One of my best friends just passed away three years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This was not my first experience with this disease, but what was new to me was the speed of the progression. In a manner of just a few months, he went from some forgetfulness, to not being able to remember his son during his wedding reception. But he still remembered me.
Some weeks ago, I had the opportunity to enjoy “Hamilton: An American Musical” in New York City. I read the musical’s inspiration, Ron Chernow’s biography “Alexander Hamilton,” and was fascinated by “forgotten" Founding Father.
In my previous blog, I addressed the concern that the United States is adrift without a science policy to secure our future, while China seems to be quickly adopting our successful research university model. But that isn’t the end of the story. The fact that the Chinese can innovate on existing ideas so well tells me that it is only a matter of (short) time before they begin to drive the creative process.
It behooves academia, government, and industry to quickly settle on a stable policy that will allow us to get back to the business we do best: educating the best engineers and scientists, and producing the seeds of innovation that drive the technological markets of the future.”
To think that all is fine and that discrimination, bias, and bigotry are relics of the past is to live in a fantasy, or certainly a different world from the one I live in. Dr. Bras shares excerpts from a 1998 address at MIT titled "Believe and Achieve: Success is Earned, Not Given at MIT." Written nearly two decades ago, many of those words are still valid today.
It has been nearly four years since Engineered Art: An International Sculpture Exhibit very publicly launched Georgia Tech’s arts Initiative. And a lot has happened since. But, the most important success is the increasing assimilation of arts and creativity in the daily life of our campus and, increasingly, in our curriculum. Our students and faculty appreciate how the processes of innovation, design, and creativity are shared between our core disciplines and the arts.
Meeting some of our nation and humanity's most difficult challenges will require the inclusion of bright individuals from underrepresented groups all over the world to collaborate in the invention and design of a new future for all of us.
At some level, all of us at Georgia Tech can serve a higher purpose that involves reaching out to others in need and working to find solutions to the many problems facing the world, our nation, and our communities. Do not be passive observers. Please get engaged.
The role of leadership, at all levels, is to translate Georgia Tech's strategic plan into specific strategies and action items with medium- and short-term horizons. The Office of the Provost is no exception.
During the past year, the Task Force on Classroom and Academic Scheduling, chaired by professor Joseph Hughes and Steven Girardot, Ph.D., and including faculty, staff, and students, completed a comprehensive review of our current classroom- and academic-scheduling processes and protocols to determine and plan for utilizing existing campus resources.
As a campus of 33,000, we must be responsive, open, and direct about issues of inclusivity, discrimination, and inequity in all forms. We must as individuals, and as a whole community, make a stand against behaviors that are simply unacceptable, be they isolated or systemic. We must work hard, get uncomfortable, and develop real solutions to become the community we wish to be. That must be true in how we hire and promote our faculty and staff, how we develop student and professional leaders, and how we as a community listen and respond to each other.
For Georgia Tech, being a global institution means attracting the best and brightest students, educating leaders and problem-solvers, and then proudly witnessing their impact on the world. This summer’s travels demonstrated just a few of the ways we are making those aspirations a reality.
For leaders to develop they must have some inherent talents and learn some necessary skills. They need to operate in a nurturing climate, and they need experience. Anyone can be a leader in his or her own realm. Many are naturals; most of us need to work at it through study, observation, and practice. Georgia Tech is blessed with extraordinary human capital of significant leadership potential.
In the future, higher education disciplinary boundaries will be blurred. Learning will never stop and universities will need to provide access to new ideas to all, particularly their alums – creating a “once a student, always a student” approach.
Reputation is built on excellence, and excellence is built on reputation. In universities, this mutually enhancing relationship is developed by admitting the best students, operating with the very best staff, and hiring and retaining the best faculty. Unquestionably the pyramid of excellence is founded on the students. Here at Georgia Tech, it is evident that we must be doing something right.
In January, the commission kicked off under the leadership of co-chairs, Professors Rich DeMillo and Bonnie Ferri. The 40-member commission includes faculty, staff and students, both undergraduate and graduate who come from various disciplines and educational perspectives. They will explore new ideas in content delivery and nurturing a culture of lifelong learning for undergraduate, graduate, and professional education learners.
Under the GTx label, Georgia Tech will utilize the edX platform to offer online content for learners around the world. With this new partnership, we become a charter member of the edX Consortium, further strengthening Georgia Tech’s leadership role in the online space. By adding edX to already successful partnerships with Coursera, Udacity, and NovoEd, Georgia Tech becomes the first major research institution to offer the online experience on all major MOOC platform providers.
December 10 marks the 67th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To commemorate the signing and in recognition of the recent installation of the Einstein monument, we were honored to receive a statement from Tech alumnus and former President Jimmy Carter.
GlobalTech seeks to be a forum for presidents and high-level officers to jointly address issues of science and technology education and research, and to share best practices among leading global institutions with similar missions.
Our trip started in Paris. On Monday, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CentraleSupélec, with its President Hervé Biausser. This MoU renews and grows our strategic partnerships and calls for exchanges of ideas, curricula and people.
On Friday, October 23, as thousands of alumni and students converge on campus to celebrate homecoming, we will officially dedicate the final cast of Robert Berk’s Einstein sculpture right here on campus. Georgia Tech and Atlanta embody science and civil/human rights like no other institution and city in the nation. It is fitting that we will be the home of this unique piece of public art. Unquestionably, the Einstein Monument at Georgia Tech will become a fitting icon for what we represent: science, technology and the betterment of the human condition.
On Sunday, August 23, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Peking University’s (PKU) Biomedical Engineering Department. Georgia Tech’s relationship with PKU started with visits in 2004 and culminated in 2009, when together with Emory University, we created the joint PhD in Biomedical Engineering. The program is the only one of its kind in the world and offers a unique opportunity for U.S. and Chinese students to learn and work together, spending time in both Beijing and Atlanta, and ultimately getting a degree signed by three universities!
The trip included the First Annual Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Get-Together dinner, and included, among others, the attendance of about a dozen Coulter Fellows, master degree level graduates from our former program in Shanghai. They are an unbelievably accomplished young group that is making a difference in China – holding important positions in commerce, industry and government. They enjoyed the evening together with their patron, Sue Van of the Coulter Foundation, who made their graduate studies possible.
Two years ago, Georgia Tech became the first American institution to become a member of Shenzhen Virtual University Park. Similar to the Georgia Tech/Tech Square model back home in Atlanta, the Shenzhen Virtual University Park emphasizes university-industry partnerships. Even though we are just beginning to settle into our new role in Shenzhen, we are already talking about bringing the effort to the next level.
Our time in China will include meetings with business leaders and university representatives, alumni receptions, celebrations of critical collaborations, and exploratory discussions surrounding potential new opportunities with our partners in industry, government, and education.
Georgia Tech has been in Singapore for more than 15 years as the co-founders of The Logistic Institute – Asia Pacific with the National University of Singapore (NUS). This week, our visit began by strengthening that partnership, joining NUS Provost Tan Eng Chye in inaugurating a new joint Center for Next Generation Logistics.
The highlight of the visit has to be the evening alumni/ae and students’ reception Wednesday evening. The attendees ranged from Dr. Pakorn Adulbhan (PhD IsYE, ’68), president of the Royal Society of Thailand, to several 2014 graduates (some 70 of them). This was an energetic and inspiring group in more ways than one. First the camaraderie, honest love of Georgia Tech and excitement at this first attempt to bring together the 400 strong alumni/ae was palpable. They have been waiting for this moment for so long.
We had the opportunity to visit EWHA Woman’s University, a women-only university founded by Methodist missionaries back in 1886, one year after Georgia Tech was established in Atlanta. I was impressed.
Besides being a region of extraordinary economic growth, much built on science and technology, four of the top 10 countries represented in our alumni/ae rosters are from Asia. This region not only brings us its best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students, but also key academic partners.
Summer is upon us and Campaign Georgia Tech continues to hit significant milestones, creating exciting opportunities for transformation, and providing critical and timely investments in the Institute as we position ourselves to be designers of the future and extend our regional, national, and global reach through innovative education and research.