The University of Toledo Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the UT College of Engineering, to serve as interim president beginning July 1.The move comes following a decision by UT President Lloyd Jacobs to accept the invitation to be a Distinguished Fellow with the Council on Competitiveness, a global economic development nonprofit organization based out of Washington, D.C.
Joseph Zerbey, chairman of the UT Board of Trustees, said the University is fortunate to have a leader like Naganathan to step in and guide the University during the months ahead.
“Dr. Naganathan is one of the University’s most respected individuals and has led and grown the College of Engineering for more than a decade. The college is one of only eight nationwide with a comprehensive co-op education system and the result is near-perfect job placement for a surging number of engineering graduates,” Zerbey said.
“His commitment to academics, research and philanthropic growth along with his partnerships across campuses and relationships throughout the community and country are among the many reasons the Board of Trustees has asked that he serve in this vital role,” Zerbey said, noting that Naganathan has raised more than $15 million for the College of Engineering during his time as dean.
“I’m honored by the trust placed in me by Chairman Zerbey and the Board of Trustees, and excited to serve the University in a new capacity,” Naganathan said. “I’d like to thank Dr. Jacobs for his leadership and friendship during the last eight years. As interim president, I will do my very best to make sure that our University remains committed to excellence in academics, research, patient care and community engagement through a synergistic engagement of our expertise in all of our campuses.
“We are an academic institution, and we will be defined by the educational and research excellence of our faculty and the resulting success of our students,” Naganathan added. “We must maintain and grow our commitment to a strong educational foundation. Whether a student is in a professional school or studies humanities, social sciences and the arts, critical thinking and communication skills must be part of every graduate’s education.”
Naganathan, who also has been leading the search for the next dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences with committee co-chair Dr. Robert Mrak, professor and chairman of the Department of Pathology, said the merger between UT and the Medical University of Ohio brought with it many collaborative opportunities between the Health Science and Main campus colleges.
“As an example, the connections between the colleges of Medicine and Engineering during the past eight years have energized many synergistic opportunities in the area of orthopedic biomechanics,” Naganathan said. “The UT Medical Center is a critical component of the University and going into this role knowing what outstanding colleagues I’ll be working with is something I’m very excited about.”
Dr. Kris Brickman, professor and chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine, said he knows faculty, staff and students on the Health Science Campus are grateful for Jacobs’ leadership and that Naganathan would undoubtedly receive the same support.
“As the dean of one of the top colleges of engineering in the country, Dr. Naganathan has a proven track record of exceptional leadership skills,” said Brickman, who also serves as UTMC chief of staff and president of the UT Physicians Group.
“Those of us who have had the opportunity to work with him value his insights and commitment to advancing the educational mission of The University of Toledo. We look forward to working with him in our efforts to continue to advance our academic and clinical enterprises,” Brickman said.
Naganathan is the author and co-author of more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and national and international conference proceedings, and as a principal and co-principal investigator has secured more than $6 million in sponsored research from outside agencies. He also has been awarded a U.S. patent on the use of piezoelectric devices in active suspension systems (U.S. Patent 5,390,949). Naganathan’s work with industry includes conducting vibration analysis and control studies on heavy-duty truck powertrains for companies such as Dana and Eaton corporations and as a design engineer with Ashok Leyland Motors.
“Nagi Naganathan is a very strong leader and in the time I’ve known him the difference he has made at The University of Toledo College of Engineering is clear,” said Dr. Stephen Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern University in Boston.
Director is one of 33 prominent engineering leaders from across the nation in the private sector and academia, also including Accenture, Owens Corning, Carnegie Mellon University and UCLA. Naganathan has organized and met with the group annually for the last decade to discuss the ever-evolving needs of employers and best practices to ensure UT is imparting needed skills as engineering students graduate.
“He has a strong sense of what is needed in higher education and has moved the college forward,” Director said. “His leadership has been key to increased enrollment and preparedness among the college’s students, the recruitment of outstanding faculty, and the increase in external research funding during his tenure as dean.”
“For the last 10 years I’ve been so impressed as I’ve watched Nagi and his team attract more and more stellar students to The University of Toledo,” said Karl Ronn, managing director of Innovation Portfolio Partners in Palo Alto, Calif., and a former vice president of research and development for Procter & Gamble.
“The growth started with reaching out to high schools to build relationships early and getting them to reach for the stars,” said Ronn, who like Director is a member of Naganathan’s Visiting Advisory Board. “Then when they arrive at UT, his team works hard to make sure the students will succeed after college by giving them strong academics plus classes in entrepreneurship and public speaking. These are the kind of leaders we need.”
Naganathan has received a number of prestigious awards. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the recipient of the Society of Automotive Engineers Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, America Society of Mechanical Engineering Outstanding Regional Faculty Advisor Award, Technical Society of Toledo/Toledo Society of Professional Engineers Engineer of the Year, UT Outstanding Teacher and Research Awards, and Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater, the National Institute of Technology in Tiruchirappalli, India.
In spring 2014, Naganathan was elected in a national ballot by his fellow deans of engineering for a two-year term on the American Society of Engineering Education Engineering Deans Council executive board. He also is a member of the international executive committee of the board of directors of the World Association for Cooperative & Work-Integrated Education, board of directors of the Ohio Aerospace Institute, executive committee of the national Council of Energy Research and Education Leaders, and Rotary International.
Naganathan earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Technology at Tiruchirappalli (formerly known as Regional Engineering College, Tiruchirappalli), University of Madras, India; a master’s degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Clarkson University, New York; and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University.