Dear Olin Community,
As you are aware, Olin has joined many other colleges in moving its operations online in order to help the public health effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the right thing to do during this challenging time, and similar moves and restrictions are impacting the daily lives of millions across the country. However, while the number of community members on campus has been greatly reduced, the important work of the college continues to move forward.
Accordingly, even though circumstances do not allow us to be together to celebrate this wonderful news, on behalf of the Olin College Presidential Search Committee and the Board of Trustees, I am delighted to announce the selection of Dr. Gilda Barabino as the second president of Olin College, effective July 1, 2020. Dr. Barabino’s appointment comes after a comprehensive search that drew interest from around the world, and with the enthusiastic and unanimous support of both the Search Committee and the Board.
Currently, Dr. Barabino is the dean of The Grove School of Engineering and the Daniel and Frances Berg Professor at The City College of New York. Dr. Barabino’s career is distinguished by her focus on interdisciplinary engineering scholarship, her record of research and academic accomplishments, and her leadership in higher education. Throughout her career, she has been driven by a desire to prepare future engineers to use their training toward societal impact.
Dr. Barabino’s decades of achievement in engineering education led to her most recent role at City College, where she has been dean of the engineering school since 2013. At City College, Dr. Barabino doubled the retention rate in engineering; developed new master’s programs in data science and engineering, cybersecurity, and translational medicine; enhanced the research footprint of the college; led university-wide efforts to enhance the representation and success of women and minority faculty; and provided greater STEM opportunities for underserved student communities. Dr. Barabino also established thriving partnerships with institutions across New York City, the state and the nation.
Dr. Barabino is a well-known researcher in the fields of cellular and tissue engineering and sickle cell disease. She was selected to serve on the National Institutes of Health’s congressionally appointed Sickle Cell Advisory Committee and is a participant in the Global Sickle Cell Disease Network. Her seminal research in sickle cell biomechanics and adhesion provided the basis for current technologies and novel anti-adhesion therapies. She also conducts research and publishes in the areas of science education, mentoring and the influence of race, ethnicity and gender in the academy.
In 2019, Dr. Barabino was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 2018, she earned the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation.
Dr. Barabino is a renowned thought leader in the areas of STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) education and research, faculty development, workforce development, and diversity and inclusion. In her work, Barabino has devoted much of her time to shaping the public policies that affect women and underrepresented people of color in science.
The appointment of Dr. Barabino as Olin’s next president is the latest step in a trailblazing career of firsts that began in 1981, when she was the first African American woman admitted to the graduate program in chemical engineering at Rice University. In 1986, she was the fifth African American female in the nation to obtain a doctorate in chemical engineering. She joined Northeastern University in 1989 and rose to the rank of full professor of chemical engineering and also served as vice provost for undergraduate education. In 2007, she joined Georgia Tech and Emory University as a professor of biomedical engineering and also held roles as associate chair for graduate studies and vice provost for academic diversity.
As the college enters its third decade, Olin is poised to use the same spirit of innovation from which it was launched to identify and solve future challenges, both in engineering education and in the global community. Dr. Barabino’s experience as a pioneering academic leader who is passionate about Olin’s mission makes her uniquely suited to lead the College at this time.
I invite you to read the official news release, hear from Dr. Barabino herself as she prepares to join the Olin community, hear what the Presidential Search Committee members have to say about Dr. Barabino’s selection, and explore her full biography in a new presidential announcement section on the Olin website. You can share a welcome message for Dr. Barabino on the site as well.
I would like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to Presidential Search Committee chair Beverly Wyse P’15, vice-chair Lynn Andrea Stein, and the other members of our dedicated and enthusiastic committee, as well as the Olin Board of Trustees and the many other members of our community who contributed their time and voices to this process.
Olin is a place that values human connection. While a virus may require us to keep our distance physically, it cannot diminish our collaborative spirit. We will look forward to welcoming Gilda to the Olin campus in the very near future.
Ken Stokes P’12
Chair, Olin Board of Trustees