New IT dean aims to draw more attention to the school

Contrary to his humble personality and manner, Steven L. Crouch said he has a big ambition to make the University’s Institute of Technology a household name.

Crouch began his duties as the new IT dean Jan. 1. A professor of civil engineering and former associate dean of IT, Crouch will take over for former Dean H. Ted Davis. Davis returned to teaching in the department of chemical engineering and materials science. Crouch will be the 15th person to hold the position.

E. Thomas Sullivan, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said Crouch was chosen after an eight-month search from a list of four highly qualified candidates who hailed from Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin and Brandenburg Technical University in Germany. The finalists were selected from approximately 100 applicants.

Sullivan said he is confident Crouch will be able to improve IT in terms of its national academic quality and reputation.

“Steve’s charge is to take the leadership of IT and ensure that IT moves significantly forward in national rankings consistent with the University’s strategic planning process and goals,” Sullivan said.

Crouch also had a great showing of support from the University of Minnesota’s IT community, he said. Frank S. Bates, a chemical engineering and materials science professor and colleague of Crouch’s, said Crouch’s creativity and “impeccable integrity” are assets to the department.

“As a manager, (Crouch) knows how to solicit advice, and he knows how to make decisions,” Bates said. “His technical judgment is outstanding, placing him in an excellent position to pursue new and exciting research initiatives.”

It is these traits Crouch said he plans on using to achieve his goal of drawing more national attention and incoming first-year students to the IT program.

“I believe that the key to our success in the future will be interdisciplinary and collaborative work … Today, the name of the game is teamwork,” Crouch said.

He said that to progress, IT will have to branch out from the University of Minnesota.

“We want to have multiple faculty, multiple partners, multiple colleges and probably even multiple universities teaming up on large initiatives,” Crouch said.

He said he also plans on working hard at getting additional money to improve IT’s research infrastructure and acquire scholarships and fellowships to attract top incoming first-year students.

Creating diversity within IT is also a big priority for Crouch, who said he believes minorities and especially women have been greatly under-represented.

A native of Sleepy Eye, Minn., Crouch originally came to the University of Minnesota in 1961, where he earned degrees in mineral engineering. He began his teaching career as an assistant professor in the department of civil and mineral engineering in 1970.