Penn State names executive vice president and provost

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Nicholas P. Jones, the Benjamin T. Rome Dean of the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, will serve as executive vice president and provost at Penn State, effective July 1, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees at its May 3 meeting. The executive vice president and provost is the University’s chief academic officer, reports directly to the president, and acts as chief executive officer in the absence of the president.

Jones was selected in a nationwide search led by a 17-member search advisory committee, with assistance by executive search firm Isaacson, Miller. Penn State President Rodney Erickson previously served as executive vice president and provost; Robert Pangborn has held the position on an interim basis since November 2011.

"Dr. Jones is an outstanding choice for this position and will be an important part of Penn State’s leadership team in the years to come," Erickson said. "He brings with him broad experience in higher education and a proven record of success in teaching,  research, administration and interdisciplinary collaboration. His will be an important voice as we continue on our trajectory of top-flight academic achievement and set priorities for the University’s future."

Jones was appointed dean of the Whiting School of Engineering in 2004 and was named the school’s inaugural Benjamin T. Rome Dean in 2008. As dean, Jones has overseen a strategic restructuring that has led to strong gains in enrollment; expanded academic offerings; significant gains in funded research; diversification of the faculty and student body; and the establishment of several institutes focused on interdisciplinary research, among other achievements.

“Penn State is among the world’s premier public research universities, and I am honored and excited at the invitation to serve the University in a key leadership position,” Jones said. “Penn State’s commitment to excellence clearly is evident, in areas ranging from technology and science, to the liberal arts, to its professional schools. I look forward to working with University leaders and the Board of Trustees, and the University’s world-class faculty, staff and students, at a time of challenge, yet significant opportunity in higher education. I appreciate and embrace the mission of a great public and land-grant university and feel that my experience has prepared me well for this role.”

Jones began his career as a member of the faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 1986 and was appointed chair of the department in 1999. He accepted a position as professor and head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2002, before returning to Johns Hopkins to take the role of dean in 2004.

A native of New Zealand, Jones received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Auckland in 1980; he received master's and doctoral degrees, also in civil engineering, from the California Institute of Technology in 1981 and 1986, respectively.

He maintains professional associations with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American Association for Wind Engineering, including service as president from 2009 to 2010. Throughout his career he has received numerous awards both for teaching and research, including Johns Hopkins' George Owen (1987) and Robert Pond (1991) teaching awards; an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award (1989); the ASCE's Huber Research Prize (1997) and Robert H. Scanlan Medal (2007); and the JHU Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award (2007).

Jones has served on a number of national committees, including ASCE’s National Infrastructure Policy Committee, the National Science Foundation’s blue-ribbon panel to review engineering research centers, and currently the Public Policy Committee of the Engineering Deans Institute. From 1999 to 2004, he served as international editor of the Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics.

Last Updated June 19, 2013