Michael Gordon, the Robert G. Rinker Founder’s Chair, has been appointed the new chair of the Chemical Engineering Department at UC Santa Barbara by Tresa Pollock, interim dean of the College of Engineering. Gordon will begin his new role on July 1, 2023.
“I’m excited and deeply honored to lead the Chemical Engineering Department,” said Gordon. “We will continue to draw on our strengths, which include extremely cohesive and collaborative faculty members who conduct cutting-edge research and are passionate about teaching and mentoring the next generation of chemical engineers.”
Gordon joined the UCSB faculty in 2007, after earning his PhD from the California Institute of Technology. He has held department- and campus-level leadership roles over the past several years. He has served as the department’s Vice Chair for Undergraduate Education since 2018, overseeing the department’s program review and successful ABET accreditation renewal. At the university level, he chaired the Committee on Admissions, Enrollment & Relations with Schools (CAERS) and served on the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) at the UC level for two years. Currently, he is co-chair of UCSB’s WASC accreditation committee, which is overseeing the university’s 10-year accreditation reaffirmation process. Gordon described his time serving on campus committees as “an eye-opening experience,” which also taught him the importance of representing and advocating for the College of Engineering at the university level and beyond.
“I looked at my committee service as an opportunity to look under the hood and understand, through data analysis, how the university serves its students, what our strengths are, and where we can and should improve,” said Gordon. “By seeing the bigger picture, I learned what tools departments and colleges need to have the greatest impact on our students. This unique perspective will certainly help me as the new department chair.”
Gordon replaces Rachel Segalman, who has served as department chair since July 2015. During that time, the department has hired seven faculty members, including senior and junior faculty, as well as the department’s first assistant teaching professor. The department also established two fully endowed undergraduate laboratories to ensure continuous modernization for both facilities. Segalman, the Warren G. and Katherine Schlinger Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and E.N. Kramer Professor of Materials, also helped to navigate the department and the college through the COVID-19 pandemic, playing a pivotal role in the planning and execution of ramping up research within the college.
“It’s been a tremendous honor serving as chair, and I am proud of what we, as a department, have accomplished, especially adding some amazing faculty and bolstering the academic and research opportunities for our students,” said Segalman. “I know that Mike will be a thoughtful and successful chair, and I look forward to helping turn his vision for the department into a reality.”
“Rachel has been an incredible department chair, and I have difficult shoes to fill,” said Gordon, referring to her many accomplishments while leading the department. “I will carry on the example that Rachel and past ChE chairs have established by continually striving to enhance our students’ educational experiences and our upward trajectory as a top-tier department.”
Gordon says that his top priorities as chair include continuing the strategic hiring of top-level faculty to reflect new frontiers of research in chemical engineering and to meet student needs, maximizing the department’s visibility in the field, increasing outreach for department recruitment and support, and providing more hands-on learning opportunities and support for undergraduates.