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New UMN CSE dean steps into role

Mostafa “Mos” Kaveh was first hired into CSE in 1975.

As the new interim dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering, Mostafa “Mos” Kaveh says he’ll focus on faculty recruitment and the college’s physical spaces.

Kaveh, a longtime CSE employee, said his experiences in the school prepared him for the new position. He was named interim dean last month to replace former dean Samuel Mukasa, who drew criticism after interviewing for an administrative position at another school.

Kaveh said that while the job involves new responsibilities, he’s already comfortable with the position. He has been at the school since 1975 as an electrical and computer engineering faculty member, and most recently served as associate dean for research and planning. 

“I’ve been involved … in most aspects of the college’s operations at some level,” he said. 

Physical program space and faculty recruitment are two critical challenges facing CSE right now, Kaveh said. 

Fast-growing programs have put pressure on CSE’s campus spaces, Kaveh said. He hopes to expand the in-demand computer science program and the college’s newest program — the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering — into Lind Hall once the English department moves into Pillsbury Hall.

Plus, improving program space will help recruit top faculty members — another challenge, he said.

“We look for the best and we compete with the best universities,” he said. “So what are you going to give [faculty]?”

Kaveh will also continue overseeing and promoting initiatives involving underrepresented students in CSE as well as industry-funded research. The current federal administration is cutting research funding, which is an important resource for students, he said.

“If we’re, as a nation, going to be competitive and stay on top, at the forefront of science and engineering … we have to come up with other ways of supporting faculty and student research,” he said.

Dave Pappone, chief finance and operations officer for CSE who was first hired by Kaveh 10 years ago, said he’s pleased with the appointment.

“I’m very happy to have Mos leading the college. He has spent decades in the college, decades in administrative leadership. And I think he is highly regarded across the college,” Pappone said.

Pappone added Kaveh’s experience allows him to understand the “nuances” of the size and variety of departments that make up CSE.

“There’s never [an] across-the-board, one-size-fits-all approach to anything here,” Pappone said. “Mos’s time in the college has given him a deep understanding of all the departments.”

Logan Karls, the treasurer of the Science and Engineering Student Board, said the interim position is important, even though it’s temporary. He said he’s looking forward to Kaveh’s continuation of diversity initiatives in the college.

Following Mukasa’s lead, Kaveh said he is focused on improving the K-12 “pipeline” into CSE for underrepresented groups, including African-American, Hispanic, Native American and Hmong students.

He wants these “students to actually see this as a possibility for both contributing to and improving lives — and that they can do it,” Kaveh said. 

Kaveh holds a bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Purdue University and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

The timeline and nature of a search for a permanent dean remain unknown. 

Mukasa interviewed with the University of Connecticut last fall, drawing criticism from students and administrators. University President Eric Kaler told the Minnesota Daily in November that if Mukasa wasn’t selected for the position, the administration would “need him to consider what the right role and balance of responsibilities are here.”

Mukasa will continue his role as a CSE professor, according to an email sent to CSE undergraduate students.

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