Distributed September 3, 2002
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel
Andries van Dam named vice president for research
Andries van Dam, a computer graphics pioneer and member of the Brown faculty since 1965, has been appointed the University’s first vice president for research. He will begin his work Oct. 1, 2002.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Andries van Dam, the Thomas J. Watson Jr. University Professor of Technology and Education and professor of computer science at Brown, has been named vice president for research. He will begin his duties Oct. 1, 2002.
Van Dam, a faculty member since 1965, is an internationally renowned pioneer in computer science, especially in computer graphics, his major area of research.
“Colleagues on campus and throughout the higher education community know Andy van Dam for his inexhaustible energy and drive and for the unusual breadth of his vision,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. “He is a supremely capable leader.”
Van Dam will be the University’s first vice president for research. Leadership of the University’s research enterprise had long been a dual responsibility for the dean of the Graduate School. In April 2002, however, when Dean Peder Estrup announced his plans to return to full-time faculty duties, the University assigned those responsibilities to separate leadership positions for research and the Graduate School.
“Improving the University’s research infrastructure is critical at a time when Brown is making significant investments in its academic programs,” said Provost Robert J. Zimmer. “The University needs a creative leader not only to help us develop large-scale multidisciplinary projects but also to enhance our research profile in a number of ways. I am delighted that Andy will focus his considerable energy and talents in these areas during the coming years.”
As vice president, van Dam will have senior responsibility for all aspects of research at Brown. He will work closely with faculty and the academic administration to foster internal and external academic centers, groupings and relationships which will enhance and extend the University’s research efforts. He will oversee the University’s intellectual property policies, its efforts to identify transferable intellectual property, and its Office of Research Administration. He will be an advocate for the University’s research community on and off campus.
“I know from long personal experience that the quality of research produced by the faculty at Brown is excellent and that the potential for growth in the University’s research effort is substantial,” van Dam said. “I am honored to be appointed as the University’s first vice president for research, and I look forward to the work that lies ahead.”
Van Dam earned his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania – the second computer science Ph.D. ever conferred in the United States – and came to Brown in 1965 as an assistant professor of applied mathematics. He became the chair of Brown’s Program in Computer Science in 1976 and was the founding chair when the program achieved departmental status in 1979.
In a research career spanning more than three decades, van Dam has worked on computer graphics, text processing and hypermedia systems, including systems for creating and reading electronic books with interactive illustrations. He has also had a long-term interest in the innovative use of computers in higher education. FRESS, a hypertext environment van Dam and his students created in the 1970s, was used for an early classroom experiment in a poetry course taught by Professor Robert Scholes at Brown. The experiment demonstrated the potential of information technology for improving instruction in the humanities.
Van Dam is the author or co-author of several standard texts in the computer graphics field and has written or co-written more than 90 papers in professional journals. He lectures and consults widely and has been internationally honored for his work. He has been involved with a number of startups and is currently on the technical advisory boards of ContextMedia (Providence) and Microsoft Research (Washington). He is also head of the Technical Advisory Board for the Fraunhofer Center for Research in Computer Graphics in Providence.
Van Dam was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering in 1996 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000. He holds honorary doctorates from the Technical University of Darmstadt (1995), Germany, and from Swarthmore College (1996). He is also a trustee of the Rhode Island School of Design.