Hans Björnsson Appointed Interim Dean for UC Merced School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
MERCED - Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey announced today that Professor Hans Björnsson will serve as interim dean in the UC Merced School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts following the departure of Founding Dean Kenji Hakuta.
"Guiding a College through its early stages requires a broad vision of higher education and a view of the future," said Chancellor Tomlinson-Keasey. "Professor Björnsson brings that special set of skills along with his extensive administrative background and his experience at major research universities."
Björnsson, who retired last year from Stanford University and currently holds a faculty position at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, accepted the position last week. He is spending several days in Merced this week becoming acquainted with the campus in advance of his July 15, 2006, start date. He will serve as interim dean for one year at a base salary of $143,000, during which time the university will select a permanent dean for the school.
"We are truly excited about the leadership skills Hans brings to this position and his knowledge of issues facing a startup university," said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Ashley. "He is a leader of the highest caliber who will attract exceptional faculty to UC Merced and help build academic programs that intrigue both students and faculty."
Björnsson trained dually as an engineer and social scientist with a graduate degree from Chalmers, a Master's from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a doctorate from Chalmers. He has dedicated his distinguished career to analyzing risk in construction projects, researching the use of information technology in construction, and understanding decisions on investments in information technology. The knowledge of economics and management that he has gained through this interdisciplinary research will serve as a strong link to the social sciences, humanities and arts faculty he will lead at UC Merced.
"After retiring from Stanford, I didn't intend to seek another faculty position," said Björnsson, "But I was drawn to UC Merced's philosophy of bringing new sciences together with the social and humanities aspects so necessary for creating the infrastructure of a new society. Here, we have a chance to tackle big issues in a way that would be far more difficult in an older, more established environment. "
Björnsson cites the increasing role of research universities in fueling economic growth as a major factor in his decision to join the faculty at UC Merced, where the regional economy critically needs an infusion of technology and entrepreneurial ideas.
His administrative experience includes positions as founding dean of the School of Technology Management and Economics at Chalmers, director of the Institute for Management of Innovation and Technology at Chalmers, and director of the Center for Integrated Facility Engineering at Stanford. He has also served on the faculties of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Southern California. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and has traveled the world as a lecturer and an assessor of academic programs at universities from China to Brazil to South Africa.
Björnsson also has significant experience working with new institutions, an important factor for UC Merced, which will celebrate its first birthday just weeks after his official arrival. In addition to his experience at the origins of the School of Technology Management and Economics at Chalmers, he co-founded the European Institute of Technology and Innovation management in 1997 and served as an advisor and board member of the New-IT University in Gothenburg, Sweden, beginning in 2001.
The new interim dean's relationship with UC Merced goes back to 2004, when he worked as a consultant to the university on preliminary planning for the Gallo School of Management and other academic programs. Björnsson was selected from a list of nominees who were reviewed with the Executive Committee of Social Sciences Humanities and the Arts.
Björnsson and his wife, Inger, will be moving from Sweden and intend to make their home in the Merced area. They have two grown children, a son in Palo Alto and a daughter in Sweden.