University introduces new dean of the Case School of Engineering

A national search ends with Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan, leader of a top-ranked engineering program at Purdue.
 
Steve Zinram, Executive Director of the Case Alumni Association, welcomed the new dean as Kelly Hendricks, Director of Alumni Relations, waited to say hello.

 

The new dean of the Case School of Engineering brings an international perspective, three Stanford degrees and an outgoing personality to the Case campus this fall.

Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan, the head of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, has been selected to chart the future course of science and engineering on Case Quad.

He was introduced to staff and faculty Thursday, June 28, by Case Western Reserve University President Barbara Snyder and outgoing Provost and Executive Vice President William “Bud” Baeslack III. 

“He’s a great scholar, researcher and teacher,” Baeslack told the gathering at Nord Hall, adding that he’s equally impressed by another key quality of the new dean. “He’s just really liked and very much enjoyed by everyone I talked to at Purdue.”

Snyder described Balakrishnan as a dedicated teacher and a leader who grew enrollment, attracted new research dollars and diversified the faculty ranks at one of the nation’s top programs for electrical and computer engineering.

“All of these accomplishments and more have prepared him so well to assume the deanship of the Case School of Engineering,” she said.        

She thanked the search committee co-chaired by Distinguished University Professor Hunter Peckham from the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Dean Pamela Davis from the School of Medicine and gave a special shout out to the interim dean.

“The person we really have to thank is Jim McGuffin-Cawley,” she said to applause. “Jim, you stepped up when we needed you to.”

McGuffin-Cawley assumed the role of interim dean after former dean Jeffrey Duerk left about a year ago to become vice president and provost at the University of Miami, Florida. The professor of engineering will continue leading the school through the summer.

Balakrishnan told the gathering he was humbled and honored to accept the title of Dean of the Case School of Engineering. During the lengthy selection process, he said, he became familiar with what he called the “collaborative spirit” on Case Quad and the impactful research that resulted.

“We don’t do anything great in this world alone,” he said.  “All these values came shining through. I really enjoyed learning about Case. I’m really delighted to be joining the institution. It’s my honor and my gain.”

Balakrishnan comes from similar administrative responsibilities. He leads the largest academic unit at Purdue, overseeing more than 100 faculty, a staff almost as large as the Case School of Engineering, Baeslack observed.

“There’s a tremendous alignment between the excellence at Purdue and a university like ours,” Baeslack said later. “I think it’s going to be a good fit.” 

Balakrishnan's former employer expressed sadness and good wishes.

“All of us in the College of Engineering are very thankful for his dedication and service,” said Mung Chiang, Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue. “While Ragu will be sorely missed by ECE and the Purdue community, we wish him the very best as he starts this next chapter in his remarkable career.”

A native of India, Balakrishnan earned his bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 1985, where he graduated at the top of his class. 

He came to Stanford University as an international student and earned two masters degrees and a PhD.

He began teaching at Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, 24 years ago and for the past nine years led the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, which is ranked 9th nationally for its computer and electrical graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report. 

 An accomplished researcher in system and control theory, Balakrishnan received awards for his teaching and the prestigious designation of Fellow of the IEEE, the world’s largest technical and professional organization committed to improving technology to benefit humanity. 

He’ll be moving to the area with his son, and officially starts his new job September 1.