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June 4, 2024

WPI chooses Syracuse dean to replace provost who left to be SUNY president

A man with glasses wears a dark blue suit and sits on a couch in front of windows with his hands held together. Photo I Courtesy of Worcester Polytechnic Institute Andrew Sears, Worcester Polytechnic Institute provost and senior vice president

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has named a dean from Syracuse University to be the university’s next provost and senior vice president, replacing Winston Oluwole “Wole” Soboyejo, who was the first person of color to be WPI president when he took the role on an interim basis in 2022.

Andrew Sears comes to WPI with more than 30 years of experience in higher education and is currently acting as professor and dean of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University in New York. Before his Syracuse role, Sears had an eight-year tenure at Pennsylvania State University, where he held positions including professor and dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology and helped establish the university’s Center for Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence. Sears previously worked at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, DePaul University in Illinois, and the University of Maryland. 

In his new WPI roles, Sears will act as chief academic officer, supervising all facets of academic affairs, manage associated curricular, human, financial, and physical resources, head recruitment initiatives, and foster a positive academic experience for students, according to a Tuesday press release from WPI.

"Dr. Andrew Sears is an accomplished educator, researcher, and leader who has earned a reputation as a true collaborator, innovator, and motivator,” WPI President Grace Wang said in the release. “He is known for his deep commitment to supporting faculty, staff, and students, as well as for his ability to focus on vision, mission, and priorities. I am excited to welcome Andrew to the WPI community. His knowledge, experience, and leadership will help WPI further advance our transformative STEM education and raise the stature and impact of our academic enterprise.”

A man with glasses wears a tan suit and a striped button down.
Winston Oluwole "Wole" Soboyejo

Sears replaces Soboyejo, who originally joined WPI in 2016 as dean of engineering and provost. Soboyejo was elected as interim president of WPI in 2022 while the university searched for a replacement to Laurie Leshin, eventually hiring Wang. Soboyejo was the first person of color to ever serve as a WPI president. 

In September, Soboyejo was named president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute in New York. 

“I’m a first-generation student whose life was transformed by higher education,” Sears said in the WPI release. “When I was in high school, a mentor introduced me to WPI because this university values both knowledge and the importance of putting it into action to help people and the world. My career in academia now spans three decades, and my respect for WPI has only grown over the years. Through project-based learning, WPI provides a transformative education and outstanding research opportunities. This purpose-driven, high-impact approach is unparalleled in higher education; it truly prepares students to be able to do well for themselves and their families, and it enables them to do good in the world.”

Sears earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and his Ph.D. in computer science with an emphasis on human-computer interaction from the University of Maryland, College Park. 

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