Marketing Communications

Dear WPI Community,

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Andrew Sears, PhD, as WPI’s next Senior Vice President and Provost, effective August 1, 2024. 

Dr. Sears is a distinguished computer scientist and accomplished academic leader with more than 30 years of experience in higher education. His appointment follows a national search led by Bogdan Vernescu and Mark Richman and supported broadly by the WPI community. I want to thank the members of the Search Committee and all who participated in listening sessions, shared ideas and aspirations for WPI and our next provost, met with candidates, and provided feedback.

Andrew is not only an accomplished scholar, researcher, and administrator, he is a collaborator, innovator, and motivator known for his deep commitment to supporting faculty, staff, and students. Consistently, people we spoke with about Andrew noted his strong focus on vision, mission, and priorities and his ability to engage stakeholders and use data to advance important initiatives. I am confident that his leadership, experience, and dedication will help WPI further raise the stature and impact of our academic programs as we continue to advance our transformative STEM education; expand high-impact research, innovation, and entrepreneurship; and advance our immersive experience centering well-being, belonging, and community. 

I am deeply grateful for the leadership and dedication of Professor Arthur Heinricher, who will continue to serve as Interim Provost until July 31, 2024. Art’s unwavering support of faculty, students, and staff, and strong commitment to WPI is inspirational. We are fortunate to have him in the WPI community.

We will come together to formally thank Art and welcome Andrew when the new academic year begins. Please watch for an announcement later this summer.  

A press release will be issued tomorrow; below is an excerpt that highlights Andrew’s experience and prior roles. 



About Andrew Sears

Sears is currently serving as Professor and Dean of the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University. In that role, he has focused on bringing people together to support interdisciplinary efforts. This has produced new academic programs, impactful scholarly activities, and initiatives that provide faculty with time and resources to initiate new research projects. He also co-led university-wide conversations about AI.  

Prior to joining Syracuse, Sears was at Penn State University for about eight years. While there, he served as Professor and Dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology. Among his many accomplishments at Penn State, he grew programs to enhance student experience; significantly increased external support for research; expanded interdisciplinary collaborations through faculty hiring and partnerships; established a multi-faceted faculty mentoring program; supported efforts focused on entrepreneurship and innovation; renovated and expanded the college’s physical facilities; advanced inclusion initiatives; and helped establish the Center for Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence.

Before Penn State, Sears served as Professor and Dean in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology. While there, he and his leadership team focused on academic programs and student success. Working in partnership with faculty, they helped build a robust research program and design timely new academic programs. Sears also strengthened global relationships, and worked with companies, alumni, government representatives, and funding agencies to highlight the college’s educational and research programs. 

He began his academic career in 1993 as an assistant professor in DePaul University’s School of Computer Science, Telecommunications, and Information Systems. In 1999 he joined the University of Maryland Baltimore County as an associate professor in its Information Systems Department. Over the years he also served in overlapping appointments as Professor of Research in the US Department of Veterans Affairs; Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine; Associate Director of the National Center for the Study of Elections; Affiliate Professor within the Erickson School of Aging Studies, among others. 

Sears earned a B.S. in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1988 and a Ph.D. in computer science with an emphasis on human-computer interaction from the University of Maryland-College Park in 1993. He was also with NASA from 1988 to 1993 as both a Fellow/Research Assistant at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab within the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland-College Park and a Software Engineer at the Goddard Space Flight Center. 

His research focuses on human-computer interaction, mobile computing and health information technologies, including speech recognition and accessibility-related platforms. His work has received support from various government agencies, foundations and industries, including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, National Science Foundation, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Verizon Foundation.

He has received multiple awards and honors for his work. He is the author or co-author of six books, has contributed chapters to 16 other publications, and has nearly 60 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He also has had more than 60 presentations published in conference proceedings and has edited eight journals/special issues. 

Sears served the Association for Computing Machinery for nearly three decades in various leadership positions. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Computing Research Association and for the Maryland Governor’s Workforce Investment Board on its IT Industry Workforce Initiative.