Engineering Dean Announces Plan to Retire

Don Giddens, dean of the College of Engineering, has announced his intention to retire from Georgia Tech, stepping down from his leadership position effective July 1, 2011.

A three-time graduate of Georgia Tech, Giddens has spent most of his more than 40-year career at his alma mater, interrupted only by a five-year tenure as dean of engineering at The Johns Hopkins University from 1992-1997.

Upon his return to Tech, Giddens led the development of a new type of joint education and research model, partnering with Emory University in the creation of the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. The program built on each institution’s respective strengths and was one of the first of its kind in the nation. Giddens served as the inaugural chair of the fledgling department and was subsequently named dean of the College in 2002.

In announcing Giddens’ decision, Provost Gary Schuster praised his leadership in directing a college that enrolls nearly 60 percent of the student body.

“Don and I have worked together for almost two decades, during which time I have respected his leadership within Biomedical Engineering, the College of Engineering and his alma mater,” Schuster said. “Don has played a key part in shaping Georgia Tech’s reputation and has helped build the groundwork for its continuing and expanding preeminence.”

Giddens has also been active in helping the general public gain a better understanding of both the engineering profession and the engineer’s role in society. In 2008, he chaired a National Academy of Engineering committee that explored the ways in which messaging and practical communication could help change perceptions, engage students and portray a more positive image of engineering. Earlier this year, he was selected as president-elect of the American Society for Engineering Education. Following his retirement, Giddens will return to the faculty on a part-time basis to continue his research in cardiovascular fluid mechanics as well as his professional activities.

“The impact that Don has had on this institution is immense, and we thank him for his tireless service on behalf of Georgia Tech,” President G. P. “Bud” Peterson said. “His enthusiasm for engineering cannot be overstated, and we will continue to look to him as a resource in assessing the future of engineering education in the United States.”

“Georgia Tech has changed dramatically since I arrived as a freshman student in 1958, and I could never have dreamed then that I would one day be dean of the largest, and I would argue the best, engineering college in the country,” Giddens said. “This institutional ascendancy in such a relatively short time is truly remarkable. But upon reflection, I’m not surprised. We have the best people — faculty, students, staff and alumni — one can imagine, and it is the people who make Georgia Tech great. I’m happy to have been fortunate enough to spend almost an entire career here.”

The Institute will form a search committee and initiate a  search for a successor in the coming weeks.