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May 12, 2008
By John Trent
Manos Maragakis, a longtime department chair and internationally known professor and researcher in the area of seismic response of large-scale structures such as bridges, has been named interim dean of the College of Engineering, Provost Jannet Vreeland announced on Thursday, May 8.
Maragakis will assume his appointment on July 1.
Dean Ted Batchman announced in fall 2007 that he would be stepping down at the end of the academic year and would be returning to the College of Engineering faculty following 13 years as dean.
“Manos is uniquely qualified for this position, both as a professor in the college, and as well, as an administrator,” Vreeland said. “He has played an important role in the college’s growth over the past 24 years, including the last 14 as a department chairperson. He has proven himself in a variety of roles during his service to the university, and I have every confidence he will provide good leadership over the next year.”
Maragakis, a Foundation Professor, joined the University in 1984. He gained full professorship in 1994, assuming the chair position for the Department of Civil Engineering (now the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) that same year.
“I believe the college is in good shape right now,” Maragakis said. “We need to continue to work with our central administration about determining the needs for the college at this particular time, and this includes an assessment of our strengths and weaknesses. I believe very firmly that we are central to the University’s land-grant mission. We have produced great research programs, we have a great teaching program, but in some respects we are an untapped resource for the University, and we need to realize what opportunities that might present for us.”
Maragakis praised Batchman’s work for the college, noting, “Dean Batchman has been a very conscientious and hard-working dean. He has always worked well with all of the chairs of the college, and I have always appreciated the open door policy that he has maintained for everyone in the college.”
Maragakis has established a strong reputation in national and international research circles in the area of earthquake response of buildings and bridges. His department’s Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research received recognition from around the world. The multimillion dollar state-of-the-art laboratory has developed unparalleled capacities in the field of bridge engineering. An outstanding faculty, including Maragakis, have conducted numerous earthquake simulations on the bi-axial “shake tables,” helping to improve the design and structural stability of large-scale structures throughout the nation.
In addition, Maragakis has directed a pioneering $3.6 million National Science Foundation project to study the seismic performance of ceiling-piping-partition nonstructural systems. Nonstructural systems represent 75 percent of the value of buildings exposed to earthquakes in the U.S. The unique Grand Challenge grant integrates multidisciplinary system-level studies to develop, for the first time, a simulation capability and implementation process for enhancing the seismic performance of the ceiling-piping-partition system.
During Maragakis’ tenure as chairperson, the department has grown to include a separate environmental engineering degree program. The department was recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as ranking in the top 50 civil engineering programs among the nation’s public institutions. It was the second time in three years that the department achieved this recognition.
Maragakis received his undergraduate degree from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. He earned his master’s degree from California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology.