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IIT selects provost as new president

The Board of Trustees of Illinois Institute of Technology has unanimously elected Alan W. Cramb, the current provost, to be the ninth president of the university, the South Side school announced Friday.

Alan W. Cramb will be the ninth president of the Illinois Institute of Technology. |  Photo courtesy IIT

Alan W. Cramb will be the ninth president of the Illinois Institute of Technology. | Photo courtesy IIT

Cramb, 60, who has been provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at IIT since 2008, will succeed John L. Anderson on Aug. 1, when Anderson will return to the classroom as a chemical engineering professor. Anderson announced on May 21 his intention to resign as of Aug. 15 and to remain at the university as a professor.

Cramb told the Sun-Times on Friday that he wants to boost undergraduate enrollment by 1,000 students so that the university is split 50-50 between undergraduate students, who now number 3,100, and graduate students, now totaling 4,800; increase the numbers of women and under-represented minorities enrolled in engineering studies, and offer students greater options in obtaining master’s degrees in specialties such as big data, innovation and entrepreneurship and other topics outside of their undergradate degrees. Students may also choose more traditional degrees by earning an undergraduate degree in computer science and a master’s degree in law, business or engineering, for example, he said.

Both the undergraduate and graduate studies require that the students work in teams to complete hands-on, real-world projects, in addition to classroom work, he said.

“We believe this university is poised to offer an education that’s current technically, and in which we develop our students as leaders and innovators who have the potential to be entrepreneurs,” Cramb said.

That way, IIT graduates will be ready to hit the ground running to join a technology revolution occurring in Chicago, the nation and the world, he said.

Cramb said enrollment is already increasing as students and their families see the Bronzeville neighborhood’s progression, including plans for a new 35th Street pedestrian bridge to the lake, slated to open next fall, and the university’s hiring of new professors to create research and academic braintrusts in smart-grid technology, bio-medical and bio-engineering, and food science and nutrition. The university also is building a new $40 million innovation and technology entrepreneurship institute — the first new academic building at IIT since 1968 — to house IIT’s institute of design and the university’s Idea Shop, composed of a state-of-the-art rapid-prototyping lab, collaborative teaming areas, Inter-professional Projects Program (IPRO), entrepreneurship initiatives and summer programs.

Bud Wendorf, chairman of the board, said in a statement on Friday that Cramb’s “leadership has helped IIT increase its undergraduate enrollment to record levels, strengthen its financial position, and attract eminent scholars to our colleges.”

The number of women enrolling as freshmen undergraduates majoring in engineering this Fall jumped to 25.5 percent (66 women of a class totaling 259), from 16 percent (45 women out of a total of 278) in Fall 2013, said Mike Gosz, IIT’s vice provost for admissions and financial aid.

Cramb, who is also the Charles and Lee Finkl Professor of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at Illinois Tech, received his bachelor’s degree with honors in Metallurgy from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and his Ph.D. in metallurgy and materials science from the University of Pennsylvania. He conducted and managed research in the steel industry before joining the engineering faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he co-directed the Center for Iron and Steelmaking Research. In 1997, he was awarded the POSCO Chair in Iron and Steelmaking and in 2000, he became the chair of Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. In 2005, he was appointed the dean of engineering and the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.