Elnashai named new dean of College of Engineering

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State announced today that Amr Salah Elnashai will serve as the new dean in the College of Engineering, pending approval by the University Board of Trustees at the Nov. 22 meeting.

Elnashai, currently the head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, succeeds David N. Wormley, who announced his retirement earlier this year after more than two decades as dean. Elnashai will begin Jan. 13 at Penn State.

“Penn State engineering is a premier college of national and international acclaim, and it is a huge honor for me to work with the faculty and staff to further its march of excellence,” Elnashai said. “Leaving the University of Illinois is not easy; joining the Penn State family is an event that my family and I very much look forward to.”

At Illinois, Elnashai is also the Bill and Elaine Hall Endowed Professor and director of hybrid simulation at the National Science Foundation’s Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulations (NEES) laboratory, where research is conducted on infrastructure design and construction to minimize damage from earthquakes.

As head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, he oversees 69 faculty, 50 employees, 1,330 students and an annual budget of $38 million, including $22 million in research expenditure, during the most recent fiscal year. The size of the faculty increased during Elnashai's tenure as head by 30 percent, and the diversity of the faculty increased by 80 percent. The department at Illinois also grew its research budget from $17 million to the current $22 million.

A fellow of the British Royal Academy of Engineering as well as the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Structural Engineers, Elnashai is the founder and co-editor of the Journal of Earthquake Engineering, which has been published for 16 years. Elnashai’s technical interests are multi-resolution distributed analytical simulations, network analysis, large-scale hybrid testing, and field investigations of the response of complex networks and structures to earthquakes. He has produced more than 250 research publications, comprising 145 refereed journal papers and many conference papers, lectures, research reports, two books, several book chapters, magazine articles and earthquake field investigation reports.

At Illinois, Elnashai also served as director of the NSF’s multi-institution, interdisciplinary Mid-America Earthquake Center and the NEES laboratory, as well as director and chairman of the Council on Global Engineering Initiatives at the College of Engineering.

Before coming to Illinois, he was professor of earthquake engineering and head of division at Imperial College London from 1985 to 2001. Since 1997, Elnashai has been a visiting professor at Britain’s University of Surrey, and held other visiting professor appointments at the likes of University of Tokyo, University of Southern California and the European School for Advanced Studies in Reduction of Seismic Risk in Italy.

As an educator, he designed and delivered courses such as structural earthquake engineering, structural dynamics, and bridge and building performance. At Imperial, Elnashai designed, launched and ran the master course in earthquake engineering that was the first in Europe.

He has contributed to major projects for international companies and agencies such as the World Bank; GlaxoWellcome (currently GlaxoSmithKline); Shell International; AstraZeneca; British Nuclear Fuels; Greek, Italian, Indonesian, Pakistani, Hong Kong and Turkish government organizations; and the National Geographic Society. Elnashai has recently completed research projects for the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, state emergency management agencies, the U.S. Agency for International Development and Istanbul Municipality. He has given interviews to media outlets such as CNN, BBC, Sky News, The Weather Channel and The Guardian (U.K.).

“The breadth of his expertise and international reputation will further Penn State’s position at the forefront of engineering education,” said University President Rodney Erickson. “Dr. Elnashai has worldwide connections that vastly increase the potential for collaboration with institutions of higher education, government entities and private industry, preparing our students for an increasingly global landscape.”

Elnashai obtained a bachelor of science degree from Cairo University, and his master of science degree and doctorate from Imperial College London (U.K.) where he received multiple honors for his work, including the Unwin Prize for the best doctoral thesis in civil and mechanical engineering.

Elnashai's hobbies include scuba diving and reading about history, the history of painting and movie making.

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Last Updated October 23, 2013