New Engineering dean looks to globalize discipline

Steven Iatesta

On March 24, Rev. Edmund Dobbin, O.S.A, University president, chose Dr. Gary A. Gabriele to become the next dean for the College of Engineering.  

Beginning in August, the College of Engineering will welcome Gabriele, who comes with a reputation as one open to new ideas and opportunities.

Vice president of Academic Affairs Dr. John R. Johannes, along with the Dean Search Committee of Engineering, believes that Gabriele was the right choice for the position as dean.  

“Dr. Gabriele has strong credentials in the area of instructional technology,” Johannes said.   

Gabriele said he is honored by the opportunity ahead of him.  

“My primary purpose in Villanova University is focusing on the students,” Gabriele said. “And I look forward to it.”

 Gabriele,who has been with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute explained his work and what he intends to achieve at the University.  

“I think about engineering as a discipline for it leaves a major impact on society and it is not just doing technology,” he said.  “The main idea is to learn to engage and work together with people in all different areas.”  

 He further explains that RPI is known for its innovative use of different teaching methods and he plans on bring some of those ideas to Villanova.  

Interestingly enough, he obtained inspiration on certain learning objectives in the field of engineering from a book entitled “The World is Flat” by Tom Friedman.  

He reveals that its insights on the ideas of “global competition for engineering from engineers from all over the world” have influenced him greatly, and he proposes that the College of Engineering should try to combine engineering with other disciplines to expand the education of engineering to a global level.

Gabriele will begin his responsibility as dean of the College of Engineering at Villanova University this summer.  

The process for hiring a new dean started with the announcement of the retirement of Dr. Barry Johnson, former dean of the University’s College of Engineering.  

The Search Committee – composed of four faculty, two department chairs, two students, one alumnus, one other Villanova college dean and one College of Engineering associate dean – began its work in September, developing an advertisement and placing it in a number of appropriate publications.

In addition, the Committee utilized the services of an executive search expert, who contacted some 65 engineering colleges across the country.  

In addition, they had to represent Villanova University well to the engineering profession, both industrial and academic.

 The process of spreading the word of the new position as dean began in September with the application deadline being January 15.  

The committee ended up reviewing the credentials of some sixty candidates, from whom eight were invited for short on-campus interviews.

Following extensive discussion among faculty, staff and students of the College of Engineering, six were brought back for full two-day interviews.  

“The six finalists had distinctive characteristics that made each of them different from others,” Johannes said, “but it was hard since all six candidates would have made good deans.”

Johannes saw each candidate for the position as dean with respect to all attributes each candidate had, but he thought of Gabriele as a “talented leader and a teacher-scholar with a strong administrative background” and is confident that Gabriele would become a superb dean for Villanova.  

After extensive deliberations that included input from faculty, staff, students, the other University deans and a number of administrators, the committee followed the University protocol and sent the names of four candidates to Dobbin.

Dobbin himself had interviewed the six finalists and was very familiar with them.  Reviewing the committee’s work, Dobbin selected Gabriele, who had very strong support in the committee and within the College.  

Gabriele began his education in 1973 at Norwich University, studying mechanical engineering.  

He received his Bachelor’s degree there and in 1975, received his Master’s degree at Purdue University.  

By 1980, he graduated from Purdue University with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering.  

It wasn’t just his educational experience that was impressive, but his professional experience as well with his occupations as professor for various engineering practices and even having the experience of associate dean at RPI.