New University of Iowa engineering dean returns to Big Ten from Oregon State

'It is imperative that we accelerate our work to build an inclusive community'

Oregon State University engineering Professor Harriet B. Nembhard will be the next University of Iowa College of Enginee
Oregon State University engineering Professor Harriet B. Nembhard will be the next University of Iowa College of Engineering dean. (Photo provided by University of Iowa)

IOWA CITY — Nearly a year after University of Iowa College of Engineering Dean Alec Scranton said he plans to step down this June, the campus announced Tuesday his successor — Oregon State University Professor Harriet B. Nembhard.

Nembhard was among four finalists who visited the UI this fall following a national search.

Currently the Eric R. Smith professor of engineering and head of the Oregon State School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Nembhard will start June 29 as UI College of Engineering dean.

She’ll earn an annual salary of $350,000. Scranton’s base salary is $355,880, with his total earnings at $360,880, according to the UI Office of Transparency. When Scranton was named dean in 2012, his starting pay was $287,709.

As dean, Nembhard will oversee a college with six departments, six centers and more than $50 million in annual research expenditures. It serves 2,400 students and has 250 faculty and staff.

At Oregon State, where she has worked since July 2016, Nembhard has been active in strategic planning and efforts to advance the campus’ inclusivity, student success and well-being, according to the UI.

In a statement, UI Provost Montserrat Fuentes said she’s “incredibly excited” to welcome and start working with her.


“She has demonstrated tremendous talent as a very accomplished leader, and I am confident she will enhance our research and training and build upon the successes of the College of Engineering,” Fuentes said.

Nembhard holds undergraduate degrees from Claremont McKenna College in California and from Arizona State University. She holds a master of science and doctorate from the University of Michigan.

She became head of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State University before joining Oregon State.

Nembhard served as site director of the Center for Health Organization Transformation, a National Science Foundation industry-university research center.

Her research is focused on improving complex systems across manufacturing and health care.

In a statement, Nembhard said she’s honored to be joining the UI College of Engineering.

“I believe the North Star for the discipline of engineering is to continually seek creative solutions to elevate humanity and address the needs of our society,” Nembhard said. “The college has made tremendous strides over the decade of Dean Scranton’s service to do precisely this.”

The UI engineering college recently completed a $37 million, 65,000-square-foot addition to the Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences.

The college is among many of the university’s 12 experiencing turnover at the dean level.

The largest — the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — welcomed new Dean Steve Goddard in June.


The colleges of Public Health and Law and University College all welcomed new deans in June 2018; UI Carver College of Medicine Dean Brooks Jackson started in November 2017; UI College of Nursing Dean Julie Zerwic started in August 2017; and UI Henry B. Tippie College of Business Dean Sarah Gardial announced she’s leaving in March to become the College of Business dean at Belmont University in Nashville.

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