Dean of the College of Science and Engineering to step down after 13 years

The dean for the College of Science and Engineering will step down from his position after 13 years and make way for an engineering professor from the Midwest to take his spot.

Sheldon Axler served as dean of the college for more than a decade and will vacate the position after the spring semester. Instead of retiring, Axler will continue to teach math at SF State, he said.

“There are more books I want to write, there’s more research I want to do,” Axler said. “Everything is going well, I think it’s just that there are other things that I want to do.”

Keith Bowman, the chair of the mechanical materials and aerospace engineering department at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, will take over as dean during the summer. Bowman taught at IIT for four years after working at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana for 23 years.

The current dean of the College of Science and Engineering Sheldon Axler stands in the office which will be taken over by his successor in the summer at his office in Robert A. Thornton Hall at SF State Monday, March 16. (Hyunha Kim / Xpress)

The current dean of the College of Science and Engineering Sheldon Axler stands in the office which will be taken over by his successor in the summer at his office in Robert A. Thornton Hall at SF State Monday, March 16. (Hyunha Kim / Xpress)

“I’m hoping that the time between now and mid-summer goes by very quickly because I’m really looking forward to this opportunity and it’s really very exciting for me,” Bowman said.

Axler’s colleagues have praised his implementation of research programs into the college of science and engineering.

“Dean Axler has been a champion for student research and that really pushed our faculty hiring, retention and promotion center on student research and also faculty research,” said Christopher Wenshen Pong, director and professor at the school of engineering.

Pong said Axler advocated for students to conduct hands-on research in the field.

“We don’t believe that students are going to learn science simply by sitting in a classroom listening to lectures,” Axler said. “They have to get involved with projects and research projects. Everything indicates that student research is really good for students.”

Physics and astronomy professor Jeff Greensite also credited the college’s progressive research program to Axler and said he has been a very supportive dean.

“Sheldon is a hard act to follow,” Greensite said. “He’s been a pleasure to work with.”

Bowman said he hopes to incorporate his research on retention rates of female engineering students and understand how students generally learn science, math and engineering during his time at SF State.

Despite relinquishing his title as dean, Axler said he is far from finished with his work at SF State. He said he has initiated plans to construct a new science building and wishes to continue to be a part of the growing science and engineering community.

“I’m delighted that he’s accepted the position,” Axler said of Bowman. “I think he’ll be a terrific dean and I look forward to working with him.”

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