Published April 1, 2020
Kemper E. Lewis, a global leader in engineering design, system optimization and advanced manufacturing, has been appointed dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
His appointment, effective May 1, was announced today by Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs A. Scott Weber, who said Lewis rose to the top of an extensive pool of highly qualified candidates from around the world.
A UB faculty member since 1996, Lewis has steadily risen through the ranks of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He currently serves as the department’s chair, Moog Professor of Innovation and co-director of UB’s Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technology (SMART) Community of Excellence.
He previously led UB’s New York State Center of Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation (NYSCEDII), and has received numerous accolades for his innovative and collaborative approach to research and scholarship, as well as his teaching and mentorship of students.
Weber said Lewis “brings to this role exceptional scholarly and teaching accomplishments, significant administrative experience, and proven dedication to UB students and faculty. Under his leadership, I am confident that the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will continue to be a global leader in solving grand challenges through groundbreaking research and innovation, and delivering excellent, solutions-oriented academic programs that prepare students to address real-world needs.”
Lewis succeeds Liesl Folks, who left UB last July to become senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Arizona. Rajan Batta, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, will continue to serve as interim dean until the end of the month.
A fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Lewis has published over 200 journal articles and conference proceedings, and has been principal or co-principal investigator on grants totaling more than $18 million. He has been recognized by many awards and honors, including ASME’s Design Automation Award and its Donald N. Zwiep Innovation in Education Award, a National Science Foundation CAREER award and a Sloan Foundation New Faculty Fellowship.
President Satish K. Tripathi said Lewis is an exceptional addition to UB’s academic leadership.
“I am delighted that Kemper Lewis will serve as dean of UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,” Tripathi said. “Since he joined UB in 1996, Professor Lewis has made profound contributions to our university and seminal advances in his field. A prolific researcher and passionate innovator, he has forged strong industry partnerships while furthering both theoretical development and practical applications across his numerous areas of expertise.
“Widely considered part of a select group of global leaders in the engineering design community, Professor Lewis also has earned a reputation as a dedicated and caring mentor, a humble yet ambitious leader, and the consummate UB citizen. Our engineering school — and our entire university community — is incredibly fortunate that Professor Lewis will be assuming this leadership role at UB, and I greatly look forward to working with him as dean.”
The search committee, which was chaired by Jean Wactawski-Wende, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, included more than a dozen leaders from the UB community.
“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve as the next dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,” Lewis said. “I am looking forward to working with our exceptional faculty, staff and students as we pursue the diverse challenges and global opportunities in front of us. This is a very exciting time at the University at Buffalo as we further establish our prominence and leadership in transformation research, educational experiences and societal impact.”
Since 2014, Lewis had led the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the third largest department on campus with more than 1,500 students and 50 faculty and staff.
Under his guidance, the department has enhanced faculty diversity, significantly grown research expenditures, nearly doubled the number of annual PhD conferrals, developed new academic programs and experiential learning opportunities, and enhanced the department’s reputation and ranking. In recognition of his leadership, Lewis was elected to and currently chairs the ASME Mechanical Engineering Department Head Executive Committee.
Director of SMART since 2015, Lewis has co-led the Community of Excellence, which harnesses the strengths of UB’s engineering, architecture, management and health sciences faculty to develop innovative solutions to a wide range of research problems catalyzed by Industry 4.0, including automation, fabrication, robotics, artificial intelligence and advanced materials.
As executive director of NYSCEDII, Lewis led the center’s efforts focusing on scientific visualization, interactive design environments and cyberphysical systems. It helped numerous industrial partners achieve competitive advantages by solving complex design problems, and served as a breeding ground for academic research and engineering education.
As a researcher, Lewis’ work has been sponsored by a variety of sources, including the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, the National Institutes of Health, New York State, the U.S. Department of Transportation and a number of corporate partners. As a faculty member, 14 of his students have received PhDs, with two more expected, and three dozen have received master’s degrees.
Lewis received a BS in mechanical engineering and a BA in mathematics from Duke University. He received an MS from the Georgia Institute of Technology, an MBA from UB and a PhD in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech.