New dean of grad school has ties withYudof

Andrew Donohue

For someone who spent her childhood in the cornfields of Indiana, Minnesota is a Midwest homecoming for Christine Maziar.
Maziar, the newly appointed dean of the graduate school and vice president of research, will bring her roots back to the Heartland after a southern transplanting that lasted 11 years.
A vice provost and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, Maziar is set to begin her career at the University in June, replacing Mark Brenner. Brenner was among one of four finalists for the position that was opened up with the arrival of President Mark Yudof from Austin.
“Mark Brenner is a first-class guy,” Maziar said. “He has been extremely helpful to me in my transition.”
Matthew Tirrell, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, headed the search committee that selected Maziar in December.
“People were very impressed with her organization skills and her ability to relate to people in a personal way,” he said. “She doesn’t have a bureaucratic outlook, but a strong interpersonal approach.”
Born in Columbus, Ohio and raised in rural Indiana, Maziar remained a local girl when she chose to attend Purdue University.
“For me, coming to Minnesota is coming back to the Big Ten,” Maziar said.
Maziar finished both her undergraduate and graduate studies at Purdue, earning a doctoral degree in electrical engineering.
Out of college, Maziar received a job as a professor in electrical engineering at Austin, where she has remained for more than a decade.
While there, she was very active working with both undergraduate and graduate students. Maziar became involved with and eventually was named chairwoman of the graduate assembly at Austin.
“At Texas I worked closely with graduate school administration regarding policies for the graduate school,” Maziar said.
Maziar began her ascent through the ranks of central administration three years ago, when she was named a vice provost, a position she has held to this day.
Through her administrative work, Maziar forged a strong working relationship with Yudof, who was Austin’s executive vice president and provost at the time.
“He knows what to expect from me and I very much enjoyed our working relationship,” Maziar said. “I think if you talk to faculty members at Texas, they will all tell you how much they miss Mark Yudof.”
Yudof wants to see Maziar build a new model for technology transfer, which involves bringing University innovations into public and business sectors. “I think we’re in an age at the University when technology transfer is very important,” he said.
Above the academic knowledge Maziar holds, she will also bring some knowledge of Yudof’s eating habits.
Commenting on the president’s fetish for flapjacks, Maziar said, “I like pancakes, but I’m not as fanatic about them as he is.”
From Lone Star to North Star, Maziar has changed her address but not her state of mind.
“I see in Minnesota an institution where there is tremendous opportunity to take the next step into national prominence,” Maziar said.
Although she does not feel she is informed enough to lay down a blueprint of her plans for the school, Maziar said she does have great expectations for a Rose Bowl trip that escaped her in her days as a Boilermaker.
The soon-to-be dean was up braving the Minnesota winter from late Wednesday night to Friday meeting with administration, faculty members and students.
“Consider this a very compressed freshman year,” she said.