UI taps key med school collaborator to lead College of Engineering

UI taps key med school collaborator to lead College of Engineering

CHAMPAIGN — A bioengineering professor at the University of Illinois who played a key role in the development of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine has been named dean of the College of Engineering.

Rashid Bashir, executive associate dean and chief diversity officer of the medical school, will become dean of the College of Engineering effective Nov. 1, pending approval by the UI Board of Trustees. He will earn $423,500 annually.

Bashir said Wednesday he was "very honored and very humbled" by his selection.

"It's a very exciting time. I'm really looking forward to serving the College of Engineering and the campus," he said.

Bashir joined the Illinois faculty in 2007 as a professor of electrical and computer engineering and now holds the Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering.

His research interests include bio-nanotechnology and applications of semiconductor fabrication to biomedical engineering, all applied to solving biomedical problems — for example, tiny "bio-bots" that could someday be used inside the human body to detect or destroy cancer cells.

He has held a number of key administrative roles including serving as the director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory and head of the Department of Bioengineering.

An internationally recognized scholar, Bashir is a prolific author and holds more than 45 patents. He earned a Ph.D. from Purdue University, worked in the semiconductor industry and held visiting positions at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School before joining the UI.

Bashir has been a leader in fostering new interdisciplinary partnerships both across campus and with other universities and private partners, UI officials said.

In 2015, he helped develop the concept for the new engineering-based medical school, which opened this fall. He hopes to continue contributing to the medical school in his new role as dean.

"For the College of Medicine to be successful, it will continue to need very strong support and partnership from the College of Engineering. That's what makes this College of Medicine unique," he said. "I plan to stay engaged and continue to support them actively, along with many other initiatives."

Bashir was also a leader in the formation of the ongoing Mayo-Illinois Alliance with the Mayo Clinic around individualized medicine, cancer and computational genomics. And he led the formation of the Health Care Engineering Systems Center at Illinois and the Jump Applied Research for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation partnership with OSF HealthCare in Peoria.

Bashir wants to continue those kinds of collaborations as dean and continue the college's "relentless pursuit of excellence and quality in research and education."

"It's going to be very important to provide the most affordable, high-quality engineering education to the state of Illinois," he said, and build a diverse faculty and student body and promote an inclusive environment in the college.

Bashir said academic leadership is about service, "about giving back and making others successful." He said he's looking forward to working with department heads, faculty, staff members and students to continue to address "grand challenges" in engineering and beyond.

"There's so much to be done," he said.

Provost Andreas Cangellaris, who was engineering dean before being promoted to provost last year, recommended Bashir's appointment to Chancellor Robert Jones after a national search that began last spring. Engineering Professor Tamer Basar, director of the campus Center for Advanced Study, has been serving as interim dean.

"Professor Bashir is a visionary scholar with a proven record of success in academic leadership roles here at Illinois," Cangellaris said in a release. "He recognizes that a world-class College of Engineering requires sustained success in recruiting and retaining the very best faculty" to contribute to its land-grant mission of providing accessible education, scholarly excellence, ground-breaking discoveries and innovation, he said.

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