Allen resigns, plans return to faculty

May 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Employee News, May 6, 2010

David Allen, dean of the College of Engineering, announced April 29 his resignation as dean, with the intention of returning to a faculty position in the college on June 30.

Allen, who has led the college since September 2002, is a tenured professor of engineering mechanics at UNL. He announced his intentions at a regularly scheduled faculty meeting.

The move was announced to the campus by Ellen Weissinger, interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. Weissinger praised Allen for his work to improve undergraduate opportunities and for his efforts to introduce more undergraduates to international learning experiences. She also noted that Allen has hired more women and minority faculty members, increased the college’s enrollment and improved the college’s external research funding and endowment.


“Dean Allen has done a tremendous job, and he leaves the college in a strong position,” Weissinger said.

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman also praised Allen.

“David Allen’s leadership was instrumental in transforming the College of Engineering and placing it on an upward trajectory,” Perlman said. “He saw the potential for enhanced enrollment, enhanced research, and enhanced quality and worked hard to achieve all three. UNL is in his debt for contributing to our record of success.”

Allen thanked Engineering’s faculty for its work during his tenure.

“I would like to thank the faculty of the College of Engineering for the opportunity to lead our efforts the past eight years. This has been the most challenging and certainly most rewarding chapter in my career,” he said.


Weissinger announced that James O’Hanlon, dean emeritus of the former Teachers College, will serve as interim dean until a national search is completed. Such searches typically take up to a year. Since leaving Teachers College in 2003, O’Hanlon has spearheaded UNL’s decennial accreditation process and served as interim director of the UNL Alumni Association and most recently, the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, an Omaha-based unit within the College of Engineering.

Enrollment grew during Allen’s tenure. Current enrollment stands at about 3,080 including 2,580 undergraduates; graduate enrollment has increased by more than 25 percent in the past five years. External funding for research has more than tripled to about $30 million annually, and the endowment grew to nearly $70 million.

The college has initiated the new Nebraska Transportation Center, a federally funded research center. In 2003, Donald F. Othmer Hall, adjacent to Scott Engineering Center, became the home of the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Dean’s Office suite.

Allen has hired 62 new faculty members since his arrival and has more than doubled the number of women faculty (to 25 from 12). The college has moved up 57 positions in the U.S. News & World Report poll over the past eight years, making it one of the most rapidly improving colleges in the United States.

The college launched new degree programs in construction engineering and construction and new minors in biomedical engineering and international engineering education.

The college also has made significant improvements and updates in programs offered in Omaha at the Peter Kiewit Institute. The Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction is the only program in the nation that combines architectural engineering, construction engineering and construction management under one school.

A hallmark of Allen’s tenure has been his interest in international opportunities for students. Allen has said that a personal collegiate study-abroad experience was life-changing, and he wants as many students as possible to enjoy the experience. Allen has directed study abroad programs in Italy, France, Brazil, Spain, Sweden, Greece and Egypt.

In recognition of his leadership in international education, he received the International Michael P. Malone Award from the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (now Association of Public and Land-grant Universities) in 2008.

Allen maintains an active research portfolio. His research is focused on the mechanics of inelastic solids, with emphasis on viscoelasticity, plasticity, viscoplasticity, computational mechanics, damage and fracture mechanics, and coupled thermal/structural field problems. He has published more than 130 archival papers on these subjects. He has supervised a number of doctoral and masters students.

– By Kim Hachiya, University Communications

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