Boston University President Robert A. Brown has appointed Kenneth R. Lutchen dean of the College of Engineering, effective Aug. 1. Brown and University Provost David K. Campbell announced Lutchen’s appointment to ENG faculty on July 13.
As chairman of the College’s Biomedical Engineering Department for the past eight years, Lutchen has led it into the front rank of such departments nationwide.
“As chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, he has demonstrated the vision, creativity and drive needed to lead in a world-class academic research environment,” Brown said. “With Ken’s leadership, engineering at Boston University is well positioned to increase in quality and visibility in the years ahead.”
Lutchen joined the University’s engineering faculty in 1984 and became department chair in 1998. He has developed a significant list of accomplishments during his tenure, most recently helping the Biomedical Engineering Department obtain a $2.9 million Translational Partnership Award from the Coulter Foundation, designed to accelerate the delivery of biomedical innovations to the care of hospital patients. He was the principal investigator and chief architect of a $14 million Leadership Award from the Whitaker Foundation in 2001, used in part to construct the Life Science and Engineering Building on Cummington Street. Boston University was one of only three institutions to receive a Whitaker award and is the only one that received both Whitaker and Coulter grants.
Under Lutchen’s leadership, the department jumped from 18th to 7th in the US News & World Report rankings of biomedical engineering departments nationally.
A national search for a new dean was launched last fall after Campbell relinquished the deanship to assume the position of Provost. Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Solomon R. Eisenberg agreed to serve as dean ad interim while a search committee led by Professor Thomas Bifano began the work of screening and interviewing applicants.
Campbell called Lutchen “an inspiring leader” and “a dedicated and creative educator.
“Ken has demonstrated all the characteristics of an outstanding academic leader,” Campbell added, “and President Brown and I are confident that he is the right choice to take the College of Engineering at Boston University to still higher levels of excellence.”
Lutchen earned a doctorate in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University and worked at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory before coming to BU. An expert in pulmonary physiology, he has written more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and has advanced methods for probing the structure-function relations governing lung disease, especially asthma. An innovative educator committed to making the laboratory research experience more accessible to undergraduates, he has won the College of Engineering’s Professor of the Year Award and twice received the Biomedical Engineering Professor of the Year Award.
“The College of Engineering has embraced a culture of a cross-disciplinary, team-oriented approach to research and education,” Lutchen said. “What excites me most is the opportunity to develop this culture, and our faculty, so that Boston University can have an important global impact in engineering education and new research.”
He is most proud, he said, of “the quality of the faculty that we have been able to put together and the community-like approach that exists throughout our faculty.” Lutchen said he hopes to continue to “integrate engineering throughout so many other units at BU in a variety of applications, including sensors, materials, imaging, photonics, micro and nano technologies, and information and networked systems.”
Lutchen lives in Brookline with his wife, Gayle, who is the assistant director for administration at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. They have four children, two of whom are BU undergraduates.