Dean of CEMS steps down after five years


Emma Jarnagin, Staff Writer

This version updated from a previous version at 3:15 p.m. March 29.

The dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences calls the timing of an email to students announcing he is stepping down “unfortunate” amid racial tensions at the University.

Luis Garcia will step down in June following the end of his five-year term. He announced the decision in a Feb. 28 email to CEMS students. He decided to step down in October 2017.

Garcia held a forum for CEMS students to voice their complaints about the lack of diversity following protests hosted by NoNames for Justice, an anonymous social justice activist group on campus.

“We only have one D1 class in this college,” he said. “We’re going to decrease the size of that class next year to make it more interactive, and hopefully it will be a better experience.”

In addition to the University-wide leadership and diversity training, CEMS faculty will have bias training, Garcia said.

In his time as dean, Garcia upgraded the outdated CEMS building and worked to make CEMS a more diverse college, he said.

Since Garcia started, there are now 67 percent more female students, 35 percent more students of color and 35 percent more international students, he said.

Last fall, Garcia informed University President Tom Sullivan and Provost David Rosowsky of his intent to step down as dean effective June 30, according to the email.

All UVM college deans are appointed to five-year terms.

Despite Garcia’s planned departure, “the college is doing great,” he said.

In addition to diversifying CEMS, the University has a capital campaign to raise $500 million and CEMS has already obtained over $8 million, Garcia said.

The campaign will help recruit and retain top scholars to teach and research at UVM, as well as provide new scholarships and graduate fellowships, according to UVM.

The engineering departments were in one unit before Garcia was made dean. He was charged with separating them into three departments, Garcia said.

Six new majors have been created during Garcia’s term, he said.

This semester, the board of trustees approved three new graduate degrees: a Ph.D. in information and data science, a master’s in biomedical engineering and a master’s in engineer management, Garcia said.

The other new majors are data science bachelor’s, biomedical engineering bachelor’s and a complex systems and data science master’s, he said.

“The man is a tireless worker,” said Douglas Dickey, assistant dean of CEMS. “Just puts his full energy into helping the college.”

Search committees have narrowed down the applicants to about 12 candidates for interviews, Dickey said.

The goal is to select the new dean by the end of the semester with an effective start date July 1, Rosowsky said.

“I believe the department runs well,” junior Matthew Chipman said. “The CEMS department runs in Votey and it’s a tight-knit community.”

Chipman would like to see better physics professors, a CEMS-run internship program and more computer science tutors, he said.

“The academics are both interesting and challenging,” junior Sam Zeltner said.


Note: A previous version of this article stated that Garcia called the timing for stepping down “unfortunate.” He was actually referring to the timing of a Feb. 28 email to students which announced that he was stepping down. His decision to step down happened in October 2017. Garcia said he found it “unfortunate” that the students were learning about him stepping down in the middle of the racial tensions.