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Friday, April 16, 2021

Academics & Research

Dean looks back on tenure


College of Technology Dean William Fitzgibbon credits much of the college’s success to the faculty, staff and students, saying, “ a dean can only do so much.” | Houstonian Yearbook

As dean of the College of Technology, William Fitzgibbon has embraced the vision of UH, increased recognition of the college and is working toward making the technology program the best in the country.

Fitzgibbon began as an interim dean of Technology in 2003 and officially assumed the permanent position soon after. Before that, he served as chair of the Department of Mathematics, was president of the Faculty Senate and was interim co-head of the Department of Computer Science.

“These three positions made me somewhat visible and convinced the provost at the time that I could do different things,” Fitzgibbon said.

During his time as technology dean, Fitzgibbon has worked with his faculty and staff to assist UH in reaching its long-term goals, which include making UH a top-ranked school, increasing its research endeavor and building a more respectable reputation.

“We have lined ourselves up with the vision of the University,” Fitzgibbon said. “We’ve embraced the goals of president (Renu Khator).”

He said his job as dean can be  “trifurcated,” or broken up into three parts.  Simply put, his duties include providing academic leadership, operationally managing the college and advancing it in development and marketing.

Yet, Fitzgibbon describes his job as nothing less than a team effort.

“A dean can only do so much,” he said. “A dean can articulate a vision (and) can make plans to communicate, but the work is done by faculty, staff and the students.”

Fitzgerald said he has made “wise hires” for the college and has “put into place an environment where people can succeed.”

One accomplishment he is proud of is the growing recognition of the quality of the College of Technology, as in the case of its participation in the Shell Eco-marathon, a national competition for the development of fuel-efficient vehicles that was televised in March 2009.

“Our teams did an incredible showing,” he said. “We didn’t win, but we finished well.”

Fitzgibbon said a dramatic increase in research funding has also occurred during his term. And as he puts it, his vision for the future of the College of Technology is simple.

“I want to see the college (get) on the path to become recognized as the best college of technology in the U.S.,” he said.

As a side project to boost UH’s advancement, Fitzgibbon is working with Professor Dinesh Singh at the University of Delhi to create a program on which the two schools can collaborate.

“I think the international experience is a very important part of education,” he said. “I think our students would really benefit.”

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