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Faculty and Staff

Gilligan to step down from executive associate dean role

Fitts-Woolard Engineering building on Centennial Campus with tree branches in the edges of foreground.
Fitts-Woolard Engineering building on Centennial Campus. Photo by Marc Hall

John Gilligan will step down from his role as executive associate dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University on Sept. 1, 2023, and return to the nuclear engineering faculty.

Dr. John Gilligan

Gilligan, who has held the role for 12 years, will continue in his joint appointment as the director of the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) Integration Office for the United States Department of Energy.

Gilligan, who is also a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering (NE), has served the department, the College of Engineering (COE) and NC State in many critical academic and leadership roles since he arrived at the University in 1983. This includes serving as the University’s vice chancellor for research and graduate programs for six years from 2002-2008, as well as service on different occasions as interim university vice chancellor for extension and engagement, as associate dean and interim dean of engineering, and various other important administrative service roles. He was also the first and continues to be the only director of the NEUP Integration Office, a joint appointment he has held with the U.S. Department of Energy since 2008. Gilligan’s career also includes many significant scholarly and research accomplishments including recognition as an American Nuclear Society Fellow.

“We were very fortunate to have been able to recruit John back to academic administration in 2011 to serve as our College of Engineering’s first executive associate dean,” said Louis Martin-Vega, dean of the College of Engineering. “In this role John has been COE’s chief operating officer for the last 12-plus years, overseeing our Office of Research and Graduate Programs; our Office of Research Administration; COE research labs, centers, and infrastructure; as well as Engineering Online. He has also played a leading role in our College’s strategic planning efforts, as well as overseeing decision making regarding space allocations and support of faculty research, recruitment and retention efforts college wide.”

Martin-Vega will step down from his role as dean at the end of July 2023. His successor, Jim Pfaendtner, comes to NC State from the University of Washington, where he most recently served as head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and as the Steven R. and Connie R. Rogel Endowed Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Gilligan’s tenure as executive associate dean has resulted in a remarkable period of achievement for the College with significant growth in enrollment, faculty size, research expenditures and national and global rankings and recognition. He has played a key role in facilitating the growth and development of two National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Centers, one NSF Science and Technology Center, one NSF AI Institute, the PowerAmerica Institute, two national Nuclear Engineering Centers (CASL and CNEC) and many other nationally prominent research endeavors, all of which have significantly elevated COE and NC State’s profile as a national leader in engineering research and graduate education. The net impact of these efforts is that COE research expenditures have more than doubled, from $100 million to over $200 million per year during Gilligan’s tenure placing COE’s research expenditures among the top 12 engineering programs in the country.

“The fact that this has been achieved despite the unprecedented challenges created by two plus years of the COVID-19 epidemic is truly remarkable,” Martin-Vega said.

“As if this were not enough, for the last two years John has also played a critical leading role in navigating our College through the many operational challenges associated with the Engineering Expansion initiative. Much of the success of this effort to date is a result of the outstanding dedication and commitment that John, as our chief operating officer, has given to this task, and the foresight that he has provided regarding the planning and execution of enrollment, research and space requirements needed to achieve the goals of this initiative. “Please join me in extending our sincere appreciation to John for his outstanding leadership and commitment to our College of Engineering, in so many ways, for the last 12 years as Executive Associate Dean, and for everything he has done on behalf of COE, NE and NC State for over 40 years. To say that we are in John’s debt is a severe understatement given his extraordinary contributions, commitment, and dedication to our College and University for so many years. While his formal leadership as executive associate dean will be greatly missed, I appreciate John’s willingness to stay in his position until September to assist incoming Dean Pfaendtner with his transition and to serve as a source of support going forward.”