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Peercy named dean of UW College of Engineering

Chancellor David Ward announced today (July 23) his selection of Paul S. Peercy, a leader in the nation's semiconductor industry, as the new dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering.

Paul S. Peercy

Paul S. Peercy (large image)

Peercy, a doctorate degree-holder in physics from UW-Madison, will begin his leadership of the college Sept. 1 on a part-time basis during a brief transition. Peercy is currently president of SEMI/SEMATECH, a non-profit consortium that steers technical issues for more than 130 of the nation's top suppliers to the semiconductor industry.

"I am delighted that someone with Paul's talent, experience and dedication will help us lead the college into a new century," Ward said. "The science and practice of engineering is changing rapidly, and Peercy provides an essential link between the academic and professional worlds."


Peercy's Thoughts on Engineering in the 21st Century

Vitae of Paul S. Peercy

Peercy will succeed John G. Bollinger, who steps down this year after serving as dean for 18 years. Peercy will guide a college with more than 3,000 undergraduates, 1,000 graduate students and an annual operating budget of approximately $100 million.

"This is a special opportunity for me to lead a college with an extraordinary range of talent and potential," Peercy said. "These are very exciting times in engineering, and UW-Madison is leading the way in many new fields."

Peercy said that interdisciplinary fields such biomedical engineering, nanotechnology and atomic-level engineering will play a dramatic role in the future of medicine, genetic research, drug development and electronics. Today's advanced engineering tools and the new connections to the biological sciences have made engineering research more vital than ever, he said.

Private industry will be more reliant on the new knowledge and trained graduates coming from engineering colleges. Many industries are shifting more of their research and development needs to universities, he said. The semiconductor industry, for example, created a research program recently in semiconductor technology that will invest $60 million annually into university research when it is fully funded.

Peercy said he would also like to see the entrepreneurial spirit of the college grow in its teaching and research pursuits, by encouraging the development of startup companies based on student and faculty innovations. The college has many innovative programs in this area, including competitions that encourage students to develop and commercialize inventions.

The college has strong programs in undergraduate and graduate education, and should continue using communication technology, especially the Internet, to meet the continuing education needs of professional engineers. "The mission of the college is to educate men and women who will implement change, but they'll also need a strong foundation so they come back and learn again and again," he said.


J. Butler Johnson, 1899-1902

Frederick L. Turneaure, 1902-37

A.V. Millar, (acting dean), 1937-38

Francis Ellis Johnson, 1938-46

Morton Owen Withey, 1946-53

Kurt Frank Wendt, 1953-71

William Robert Marshall Jr., 1971-81

John Gustav Bollinger, 1981-99

Peercy has been president of SEMI/SEMATECH since 1995. The Austin, Texas-based organization helps steer major new technology directions for companies that comprise the equipment and supplier infrastructure for the U.S. semiconductor industry.

Prior to that position, he was director of microeletronics and photonics at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He received his masters in 1963 and Ph.D. in 1966 from the UW-Madison department of physics.

He is a fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. His research spans several areas of solid state and materials physics and engineering.

The deanship attracted more than 150 candidates, according to search committee chairman W. Harmon Ray. The committee placed a priority on finding a proven leader who showed an ability to enhance the college's national reputation and has a knowledge of the emerging technologies shaping the field.

Research strengths at the UW-Madison college include engine research, biomedical engineering, space-related applications and nanotechnology. The college also has 15 industrial consortia that share applied research and expertise through formal partnerships with more than 100 private companies.

Other finalists were: Eduardo D. Glandt, interim dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science; and Julio Ottino, chair of the department of chemical engineering at Northwestern University.

Peercy's annual salary will be $185,000. His appointment is contingent upon approval by the UW Board of Regents.

Brian Mattmiller