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College of Engineering bids farewell to interim dean

Robert Schwartz pumps his fist while giving a speech.

Former College of Engineering interim dean Robert Schwartz will continue to work for the UM System as senior associate vice president for research and economic development in the office of Hank Foley, executive vice president of academic affairs, research and development.

As the MU College of Engineering welcomes a new dean, it bids farewell to Interim Dean Robert Schwartz who assumed leadership of the College for a full year while a national search for a new dean was conducted.

A materials engineer who previously served as interim provost and executive vice chancellor of academic affairs at Missouri University of Science and Technology, Schwartz came to engineering from the UM System where he served as chief of staff for UM President Tim Wolfe.

During Schwartz’s tenure, the $44.7 million renovation of Thomas and Nell Lafferre Hall was launched. In addition to working closely with the design and construction teams on all aspects of the project, he oversaw the monumental evacuation of the to-be-renovated sections of the building, which included displacement and relocation of dozens of research labs and associated equipment.

In addition to his successful supervision of the project in its early stages, Schwartz was a member of an engineering/campus facilities group that won the 2015 Lee Henson Access Mizzou Award for various accessibility accommodations and efforts related to the Lafferre renovation.

One of Schwartz’s top charges as interim dean was to work with all of engineering’s departments to develop balanced budgets, which each unit successfully accomplished. He also played an instrumental role in support of several advancement opportunities and presided over a donor event for two gifts totaling $500,000.

During his tenure, the college was faced with the accidental death of a visiting scholar, and Schwartz’s compassionate response in the face of the tragedy inspired many in the college and across campus and was a comfort to the young woman’s family.

The coincidental retirement of a number of staff members in key positions during his time in engineering presented the College’s interim dean with some unexpected challenges, which he took in stride and without skipping a beat, moving the College forward.

Although Schwartz is no longer with engineering, he will continue to work for the UM System as senior associate vice president for research and economic development in the office of Hank Foley, executive vice president of academic affairs, research and development.

“I truly enjoyed my time in the College of Engineering and will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve as interim dean,” Schwartz said. “I will always remember the many wonderful faculty, staff, students and alumni I had the chance to work with. Their dedicated efforts toward the success of the college were inspiring, and I look forward to staying in touch and hearing of the College’s future accomplishments.”