Vice Provost McMath Says Farewell to Tech

The man who literally wrote the book on Georgia Tech announced last week that he is leaving Tech to become the dean of the Honors College at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. McMath, a professor in the School of History, Technology and Society and vice provost for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Affairs, will join John White, former dean of Tech's College of Engineering, who has been chancellor of the Fayetteville campus since 1997.

"The University of Arkansas has an amazing opportunity to create something very special through its new Honors College," said McMath. "Georgia Tech has been my life for 33 years, and I will leave with a great deal of sadness. But the opportunity that has been presented to me at the University of Arkansas is the chance of a lifetime, and Linda and I are excited about giving it our best shot."

McMath, 60, joined the faculty in 1972 after receiving his doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has taught at Georgia Tech since then, and was named an honorary alumnus in 2004.

As vice provost, McMath oversees student academic services and coordinates campus-wide initiatives to improve the teaching and learning environment for undergraduates, including the design of a new undergraduate learning center. He continues to teach undergraduate courses and supervise graduate students. He has received the George W. Griffith Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Dean James E. Dull Administrator of the Year Award, as well as the Governor's Award for the Humanities.

"Quiet leadership is often the most effective," said Provost Jean-Lou Chameau. "Bob has proved it through his unparalleled leadership for undergraduate education and faculty excellence. Tech is losing an outstanding administrator, and I am losing a trusted advisor and friend."

McMath said that the decision to move to Fayetteville was not an easy one. "I have so many wonderful friends at Georgia Tech and so many memories of this outstanding institution. We have made so much progress over the last 30 years, and I know that progress will continue," he said.

"In my job as vice provost, I am supposed to wake up every morning and think, 'how can we make teaching and learning better for our undergraduates today?' and then go find good people who have the ideas and determination to bring about positive change. Although I'm sad to be leaving some important tasks unfinished, I do so knowing that they are in very capable hands with members of the Tech community - faculty, staff, and students - who will see them through. I hope to come back one day for the opening of the Undergraduate Learning Center!"

McMath will assume his new responsibilities at Arkansas on August 1. In the meantime, there is a lot of work to do in packing up more than 30 years of memories and materials. McMath is the author or co-author of seven books and numerous articles on American history and the history of the American South. He co-authored and edited "Engineering the New South: Georgia Tech, 1885-1985," which was published as part of Georgia Tech's centennial celebration. The book has been widely praised among historians as one of the best scholarly studies of American universities.

McMath hopes to bring the lessons of his Tech tenure to Arkansas to meet their undergraduate education challenges. The opportunity to have an impact on undergraduates is considerable and he feels that his work throughout his career here has prepared him well.

"I want to thank Wayne Clough and Jean-Lou Chameau for giving me a tremendous opportunity to lead and to develop new capabilities here at Georgia Tech. Whatever value I bring to the new position at the University of Arkansas is due to the lessons I learned here."

Bob's wife Linda is a public school administrator in DeKalb County. Their two children both live and work in the San Francisco Bay area. Bob and Linda are currently collaborating on a historical travel guide to the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland.

But it is his impact on students that will be McMath's greatest legacy. "Bob has had a remarkable career at Georgia Tech: historian extraordinaire, teaching virtuoso, and Renaissance man of education," Chameau said. "His impact on our educational programs is unequaled."