Worcester Polytechnic Institute Names Andrew Sears as Provost and Senior Vice President

WORCESTER, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Following a comprehensive and competitive nationwide search, Worcester Polytechnic Institute President Grace J. Wang, PhD, has appointed Andrew Sears, PhD, as the university’s new Provost and Senior Vice President. A successful academic leader, administrator, and distinguished computer scientist, Sears brings over 30 years of experience in higher education to WPI

“Dr. Andrew Sears is an accomplished educator, researcher, and leader who has earned a reputation as a true collaborator, innovator, and motivator,” said President Wang. “He is known for his deep commitment to supporting faculty, staff, and students, as well as for his ability to focus on vision, mission, and priorities. I am excited to welcome Andrew to the WPI community. His knowledge, experience, and leadership will help WPI further advance our transformative STEM education and raise the stature and impact of our academic enterprise.”

As Senior Vice President and Provost, Sears will serve as WPI’s chief academic officer. He will be charged with championing excellence across the university’s academic enterprise, overseeing all aspects of academic affairs, and managing the associated curricular, human, financial, and physical resources. Additionally, he will lead efforts to recruit and support outstanding educators, scholars, and staff, and will promote a positive, inclusive, and immersive academic experience for all students.

“I’m a first-generation student whose life was transformed by higher education,” says Sears. “When I was in high school, a mentor introduced me to WPI because this university values both knowledge and the importance of putting it into action to help people and the world. My career in academia now spans three decades, and my respect for WPI has only grown over the years. Through project-based learning, WPI provides a transformative education and outstanding research opportunities. This purpose-driven, high-impact approach is unparalleled in higher education; it truly prepares students to be able to do well for themselves and their families, and it enables them to do good in the world. That resonates with me personally, and I am excited to join President Wang, her leadership team, and the faculty and staff to help move the institution forward by building upon its considerable strengths.”

Sears is currently serving as Professor and Dean of the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University. In that role, he has focused on bringing people together to support interdisciplinary efforts. This has produced new academic programs, impactful scholarly activities, and initiatives that provide faculty with time and resources to initiate new research projects. He also has co-led university-wide conversations about AI.

Prior to joining Syracuse, Sears was at Penn State University for about eight years. While there, he served as Professor and Dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology. Among his many accomplishments at Penn State, he grew programs to enhance student experience; significantly increased external support for research; expanded interdisciplinary collaborations through faculty hiring and partnerships; established a multi-faceted faculty mentoring program; supported efforts focused on entrepreneurship and innovation; renovated and expanded the college’s physical facilities; advanced inclusion initiatives; and helped establish the Center for Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence.

Before Penn State, Sears served as a professor and dean in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology. While there, he and his leadership team focused on academic programs and student success. Working in partnership with faculty, they helped build a robust research program and design timely new academic programs. Sears also strengthened global relationships, and worked with companies, alumni, government representatives, and funding agencies to highlight the college’s educational and research programs.

He began his academic career in 1993 as an assistant professor in DePaul University’s School of Computer Science, Telecommunications, and Information Systems. In 1999 he joined the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as an associate professor in its Information Systems Department. Over the years he also served in overlapping appointments as Professor of Research in the US Department of Veterans Affairs; Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine; Associate Director of the National Center for the Study of Elections; Affiliate Professor within the Erickson School of Aging Studies, among others.

Sears earned a B.S. in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1988 and a Ph.D. in computer science with an emphasis on human-computer interaction from the University of Maryland-College Park in 1993. He was with NASA from 1988 to 1993 both as a Fellow/Research Assistant at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab within the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland-College Park and as a Software Engineer at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

His research focuses on human-computer interaction, mobile computing, and health information technologies, including speech recognition and accessibility-related platforms. His work has received support from various government agencies, foundations and industries, including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Verizon Foundation.

He has received multiple awards and honors for his work. He is the author or co-author of six books, has contributed chapters to 16 other publications, and has nearly 60 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He also has had more than 60 presentations published in conference proceedings and has edited eight journals/special issues.

He served the Association for Computing Machinery for nearly three decades in various leadership positions. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Computing Research Association, and the Maryland Governor’s Workforce Investment Board on its IT Industry Workforce Initiative.

President Wang’s selection of Sears was informed by search advisory committee composed of faculty, students, and staff representing diverse backgrounds and perspectives within the WPI community.

Sears will officially join WPI on August 1, 2024, and will succeed Arthur C. Heinricher, who has been serving as Interim Senior Vice President and Provost.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

WPI, a global leader in project-based learning, is a distinctive, top-tier STEM research university founded in 1865 on the principle that students learn most effectively by applying the theory learned in the classroom to the practice of solving real-world problems. Recognized by the National Academy of Engineering with the 2016 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education, WPI’s pioneering project-based curriculum engages undergraduates in solving important scientific, technological, and societal problems throughout their education and at more than 50 project centers around the world. WPI offers more than 70 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs across 18 academic departments in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts. Its faculty and students pursue groundbreaking research to meet ongoing challenges in health and biotechnology; robotics and the internet of things; advanced materials and manufacturing; cyber, data, and security systems; learning science; and more. www.wpi.edu