RIT's Andrew Sears named College of Information Sciences and Technology dean

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State announced today (March 17) that Andrew L. Sears will become the new dean in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), pending approval by the University Board of Trustees at its March 20 meeting.

Sears, currently dean of the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), succeeds David Hall, who returned to the faculty ranks in fall 2014. Sears will begin his appointment July 11.

“I cannot imagine a more exciting intellectual space than the intersection of people, technology and information, and I am excited to be joining the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology,” Sears said. “I can’t wait to begin working with the faculty, staff and students to build on the very strong foundation established by my predecessors.”

The Newton, Massachusetts, native has served as a dean and professor at RIT since 2011. During his tenure at RIT, Sears founded the first academic department in the United States dedicated exclusively to computing security and attended the recent White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection where President Barack Obama signed an executive order to promote information sharing about cyber threats.

At RIT, he supported faculty efforts to revise existing programs and developed new degree programs and minors spanning a variety of topics, including human-centered computing, Web and mobile computing, computing and information technologies, data science, open source software development and computing security.

Sears encouraged the creation of a new “computing explorations” program that allows newly admitted undergraduates the opportunity to learn about and transfer into the college’s various computing programs. He also initiated the revitalization of the RIT’s Women in Computing program with the goal of increasing the representation of women in the college’s programs.

Sears also created seed and strategic funding programs to support faculty efforts to increase research activity and funding, which resulted in a significant increase in external funding in less than four years.

Sears’ research centers on human-centered computing and accessibility with projects focused on issues associated with mobile computing, health information technologies, speech recognition and assessing an individual’s cognitive status via normal daily interactions with information technologies.

His work has been supported by numerous industry leaders, government agencies and foundations, including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Verizon Foundation and a number of state agencies.

Sears has been extensively involved with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He was an ACM Council member and is a founding editor-in-chief of the ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing. He serves on the editorial boards of both the ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing and ACM Transactions on Computer Human Interaction. Sears is also a member of the Computing Research Association board of directors.

His awards and honors include the ACM Distinguished Scientist award in 2010, the IBM Faculty Award, ACM’s SIGACCESS Recognition of Service Award for accessible computing and ACM’s SIGCHI Recognition of Service Award for computer-human interaction.

“Attracting someone with Andrew Sears’ experience and credentials is a major benefit to Penn State. He has demonstrated his ability to lead and innovate in a field that changes and evolves very rapidly,” said Nicholas Jones, executive vice president and provost at Penn State. “I have little doubt that under his leadership, the College of Information Sciences and Technology will continue to advance to even greater heights.”

Sears earned his bachelor of science degree in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1988 and his doctorate in computer science from the University of Maryland in 1993.

He has served on the faculty of DePaul University; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and RIT.

Last Updated March 17, 2015