CLAREMONT, Calif. -- Maria Klawe, dean of Princeton University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has been chosen to serve as the fifth president of Harvey Mudd College (HMC).
A renowned computer scientist and scholar, Klawe will be the first woman to serve as president of HMC, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. She will begin her duties July 1, 2006, succeeding Jon C. Strauss, who will retire after more than nine years of service as president. Klawe arrives at a time when the college has achieved new levels of pre-eminence in undergraduate education of engineers, scientists and mathematicians and has earned a reputation for attracting the nation's brightest students and faculty committed to teaching and research.
"We are extraordinarily pleased that Maria Klawe will be leading Harvey Mudd College into its second half-century," said R. Michael Shanahan, chair of the HMC board of trustees. "Her keen understanding and appreciation for the value of undergraduate education and research makes her the perfect choice for us. She understands our mission and will guide the college in formulating and articulating a vision for engineering, science and mathematics education in the new century. Her experience in industry will be a major asset as we continue to develop corporate relationships."
Klawe earned her B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics at the University of Alberta, Canada, and began her tenure at Princeton in January 2003. Prior to that, she held academic positions at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of Toronto and Oakland University. During her 15 years at the University of British Columbia she served as head of the Department of Computer Science from 1988 to 1995, vice president of student and academic services from 1995 to 1998, and dean of science from 1998 to 2002. She also spent eight years in industry, serving at IBM Almaden Research Center, in San Jose, Calif., first as a research scientist, then as manager of the Discrete Mathematics Group and manager of the Mathematics and Related Computer Science Department.
Her teaching interests center on making mathematics accessible and appealing to all students, and the use of technology to enhance learning and motivation. In 2005, she won the Princeton Engineering Student Council teaching award for her work in teaching second-semester calculus. In 2002, she organized the Aphasia Project at UBC, bringing together faculty from human-computer interaction, psychology and audiology and speech sciences to produce handheld devices to improve the quality of life and independence of people with aphasia (loss of language most commonly caused by stroke).
Klawe has been active in many organizations promoting women and leadership in science and technology, and is currently chair of the board for the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology in Palo Alto, Calif. She is a current member of the Executive Committee, the past president (2002-2004), and also a fellow (1995) of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), and was a board member of the Computing Research Association. Her service to other organizations includes work as a trustee for the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at UCLA, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, and the American Mathematical Society. She holds honorary doctorates from Dalhousie University (2005), Queen's University (2004), the University of Waterloo (2003), and Ryerson University (2001).
"I'm thrilled by the opportunity to be the next president of Harvey Mudd College," Klawe said. "I cannot imagine a more exciting time to be at Mudd, or a time when its mission of educating scientists and engineers has been more important. Given the ongoing changes in science and engineering industries and in the global economy, there are many new opportunities and challenges in science and engineering education.
"I can't wait to get started," Klawe stated, with her trademark enthusiasm. "The world needs Mudd to continue its wonderful track record of innovation in undergraduate engineering, science and mathematics education, and to lead the way in developing the next generation of educational advances. The college has the right group of talented and dedicated people: faculty, students, alumni, staff and trustees to do this. Mudd also has the level of spirit, creativity, drive and energy that will be needed."
"I am pleased and excited that Dr. Maria Klawe will lead us as the fifth president of Harvey Mudd College," said Hal Van Ryswyk, professor of chemistry, chair of the faculty and a member of the search committee. "You only need about ten seconds of conversation with her to discover that she is a true 'Mudder.' The faculty look forward to working with Dr. Klawe as we build upon HMC's tradition of excellence in undergraduate education."
An advocate for women and minorities pursuing careers in engineering, science and mathematics (fields where they are traditionally underrepresented), Klawe is part of a trend that emerged during Strauss' tenure. The percent of women students at HMC has risen from 20 percent (1990) to 33 percent (2005) and the percentage of women faculty from 17 percent (1995) to 35 percent (2005). HMC ranks second in the nation in percentage of women faculty in engineering.
Nancy Bekavac, president of Scripps College, HMC's neighbor in The Claremont Colleges Consortium, said of Klawe: "She is bright, enormously committed to teaching, politically astute, self-confident, unstuffy and informal, pragmatic and utterly down to earth. She will be a wonderful addition to the Council of Presidents of The Claremont Colleges."
Klawe was selected after an extensive nationwide search that began when Strauss announced his retirement last year. The 16-member search committee, assisted by the firm A.T. Kearney Executive Search, comprised faculty, alumni, trustees, staff and students of the college and was chaired by Trustees Ed Johnson and William Mingst.
Elaine Hart '06, president of the Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College (ASHMC) and one of two students who served on the search committee, said of Klawe's selection: "In addition to her professional qualifications, Dr. Klawe will bring an exceptional level of energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the job and to the community. She is engaging, thoughtful, and already has a great appreciation for what makes Mudd special. I am especially excited about her expressed interest in the quality of the student experience on campus, and cannot wait to see how the college develops under her leadership in the years to come. I am also very grateful to the board for seeking student input in this important process and for including students on the search committee."
Klawe is married to Nicholas (Nick) Pippenger, a professor of computer science and mathematics, who will leave his position at Princeton to join the faculty in the HMC Department of Mathematics. They have two children: Janek, age 23, who is pursuing his Ph.D. in computer science at Princeton; and Sasha, age 20, who will be on leave from the University of New Hampshire during the spring semester 2006 to study international relations at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
Klawe's personal interests include painting, long distance running, hiking, kayaking, juggling and playing electric guitar. She describes herself as "crazy about mathematics" and enjoys playing video games. In 2005, she established the Kathleen W. Klawe Prize for Excellence in Teaching of Large Classes at the University of Alberta in the name of her mother, an economics professor there in the 1960s and 70s. She gives a painting to each person who donates a minimum of $1500 to the endowed fund.