Associate Provost J. Cole Smith named dean of engineering and computer science at Syracuse

September 18, 2019

J. Cole Smith, Clemson’s associate provost for academic initiatives, will become dean of the Syracuse University College of Engineering and Computer Science Oct. 1. He previously was chair of industrial engineering for the past five years.

Photo of J. Cole Smith

J. Cole Smith

“We are fortunate to bring to campus a forward-thinking academic leader, an energetic visionary and an accomplished innovator of his stature and experience,” said Syracuse Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Michele G. Wheatly.

“Syracuse University is lucky to get Cole,” said Bob Jones, Clemson’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “His success in academics, research and student recruiting as chair of industrial engineering speaks for itself and he added to that record as associate provost for academic initiatives. We are sorry to see him go, but we are proud of his accomplishments at Clemson.”

“What stood out for us was Cole’s strong track record as a highly accomplished researcher, educator and administrator,” said John Liu, the Syracuse vice president for research, who chaired the search committee. “In a short period of time, he significantly increased the student population, enhanced the research portfolio and elevated the stature of his department at Clemson. His vision and passion, experience and strong communication skills will allow him to lead our College of Engineering and Computer Science to a new level.”

In its announcement of his appointment, Syracuse University noted that as chair of industrial engineering at Clemson, Smith implemented several initiatives to encourage and support innovative and relevant research that would attract undergraduate and graduate students and new funding, and to improve diversity and international distinction. The undergraduate population grew 50 percent over four years.

Smith identified new sources of revenue to support departmental growth and opened a new building that was funded through online program revenue. He demonstrated his personal commitment to graduate education and research by serving as adviser on 22 dissertations and helping to place graduates in tenure-track positions at Michigan, Arizona State, Cincinnati, Arkansas, the U.S. Naval Academy, Wichita State and Bogazici University in Turkey.

Smith was inducted as a fellow of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) in 2019 and has been recognized with awards for research publications and presentations.  He has served in many leadership roles in his profession, including president of the Association of Chairs of Operations Research Departments (2016), chair of the Council of Industrial Engineering Academic Department Heads (2017), chair of the INFORMS Computing Society (2018-2019), member of the board of trustees for the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering (2018-2020) and member of the board of directors for the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (first term encompassing 2019-2020).

Prior to Clemson, Smith was a professor in industrial and systems engineering at the University of Florida (where he also served for one year as interim chair before leaving for Clemson) and the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences from Clemson.