Dean-Elect Lynden Archer
A message from Dean-Elect Lynden Archer:
Cornell Engineering Community,
I am honored to have been chosen as the next Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. I am humbled and excited to lead Cornell Engineering at this particular moment in time—a period that I believe will be remembered as much for its incredible challenges as for the opportunities it provides for our College to lay robust foundations for long-term influence in the world.
In my nearly 20 years at Cornell, I have had the good fortune to serve in many roles. I have grown to appreciate the importance of the mission of the modern university in both traditional domains—knowledge creation and dissemination—and in new domains—translating research discoveries into commercial practice, expanding opportunity, and in developing people to reach their greatest potential.
My overarching goal as Dean is to transition a College that is already a leader among its peers to one that has broad influence. One that serves as a center of excellence not just during my term as Dean, but for the next 25-50 years. While specific plans for achieving this goal will evolve through an inclusive planning process that will benefit from your best ideas, I see potential for substantial, long-term benefits through investments in three complementary areas:
- Making strategic investments in people and programs—We must invest in outstanding new and existing faculty, intellectual leaders and trendsetters, persons prepared to lead institutes, centers, and vibrant, influential research programs. We must likewise develop mechanisms for recognizing, rewarding, and nurturing excellence among members of our staff. We must also invest in programs that instill the broad skills required for lifelong success of our students. And, we must leverage our successes in diversifying our undergraduate student body to also lead the nation in diversifying our faculty and in developing a campus culture where diversity is nurtured and celebrated.
- Building stronger bridges within and among colleges—We will strengthen ties between departments in the College by supporting strategic initiatives designed to un-silo talent among the faculty. We will build new bridges to Weill Cornell Medicine and with Cornell Tech in an initiative I’ve tentatively titled “One Cornell Engineering.” The goal is to develop interdisciplinary strength in Ithaca and a robust COE footprint in New York City.
- Modernizing infrastructure for research, teaching, and technology translation—Investments in these areas are expensive, but have historically outlasted their projected lifetimes. I see real opportunity for leveraging investments made over the next five to ten years to update our infrastructure for decades-long impacts.
Success in achieving these goals will allow us to play our part in sustaining the outstanding tradition that began 150 years ago when our College was founded—at the beginning of the 2nd Industrial Revolution, when advances in manufacturing, transportation and communication technologies drove disruptive changes in the ways people lived, worked, and communicated. It has, furthermore, been argued that we are at the dawn of a new period termed the 4th Industrial Revolution, in which technology will become central to every aspect of human life. I believe that even modest progress towards this grand vision will provide exciting opportunities for reimagining Cornell Engineering and its interactions with the life and social sciences.
It is understood that the societal and economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will present enormous short-term challenges to implementation of this ambitious agenda. I nonetheless again draw inspiration from our 150-year history. A period punctuated by as momentous disruptions due to war and recession, but in which our predecessors were able to seize the moment to invest in programs and infrastructure responsible for our College’s enduring strength. I’ve likewise been inspired by the resilience our community has displayed over the recent difficult months of disruption and transition to online instruction. My goal is to ensure we have the leadership and resources to remain steadfast in our mission.
My term will officially begin on July 1, but I am already making preparations to hit the ground running. In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to meeting with many of you to learn about your needs and listen to your best ideas.
Let me close with a personal and heartfelt note of thanks to my predecessor, Dean Lance Collins, who has ably led the College for the last ten years with poise and grace. Although Lance’s contributions are too many to list here, his commitment to diversifying our College leaves a timely and enduring legacy.
Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering-Elect
James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering
David Croll Director of the Cornell Energy Systems Institute