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Cheng named dean of school of engineering at UM

Alexander H. D. “Alex” Cheng has been named dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Mississippi.

        Cheng, chair and professor of civil engineering, joined the UM faculty in 2001 after having taught at the University of Delaware, Columbia University and Cornell University. He replaces Kai Fong Lee, who leaves the position June 30 but will remain on the faculty. Cheng assumes his new duties July 1.

        “We are very pleased that Dr. Cheng has agreed to serve as dean of the School of Engineering,” said Morris Stocks, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “He is an accomplished and highly regarded scholar, an effective teacher and a proven administrator. Dr. Cheng has a strong and well-articulated vision for the school.”   
        Cheng’s appointment is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.
        Cheng said he is “very pleased, excited and honored” to have been named to lead the engineering school.
        “This position of leadership will be very challenging,” he said. “Much has been accomplished during the tenure of my predecessor, but there also remains much to be done.
         “We must see the current renovations (Carrier Hall, Old Chemistry) and new construction project (Center for Manufacturing Excellence) to their completion. As always, we’re committed to increasing student enrollment, greater fundraising and expanding research opportunities for faculty and students.”
        Cheng credited engineering alumni for contributing to the school’s ongoing success. “Alumni support has been critical to every area of the School of Engineering. I am looking forward to continuing to work with them, as well as our new development officer, toward the school’s future growth.”
        Cheng’s achievements at UM include the 2004 School of Engineering Faculty Service Award and the 2007 Outstanding Engineering Faculty of the Year Award. Previous honors include the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Basic Research Award by the U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics and the Eminent Scientist Award from Wessex Institute of Technology.
        A registered professional hydrogeologist, Cheng has founded two international conference series: the International Conference on Saltwater Intrusion and Coastal Aquifiers, and the Biot Conference on Poromechanics. His is vice president of the Engineering Mechanics Institute of ASCE, and formerly served as vice president of academic affairs of the American Institute of Hydrology.
        Cheng holds a doctoral degree from Cornell University, master’s from the University of Missouri-Columbia and bachelor’s from National Taiwan University. His primary research interests are water resources, boundary element methods, mechanics of porous materials and nanomechanics. He is the principal investigator and co-principal investigator of several million-dollar research grants on nanocomposites, infrastructure protection and levee protection.
        He has written two books and published more than 100 refereed journal papers. He has edited more than a dozen books and more than a dozen journal special issues. He is listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering and American Men and Women of Science.
        A native of Taiwan, Cheng and his wife, Daisy, have two daughters, Jacqueline and Julia.


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