Worcester Polytechnic Institute Appoints New Dean of Undergraduate Studies

University Taps Arthur Heinricher, a 16-year Veteran Faculty Member and Current Associate Dean for the First Year Experience
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December 02, 2008

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Worcester, Mass.– December 2, 2008 -- Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) announced today that Arthur Heinricher has been appointed dean of undergraduate studies. In this position, Heinricher is responsible for ensuring the quality and effectiveness of all aspects of the undergraduate experience at WPI. A 16-year veteran of the WPI faculty, he comes to the job having most recently served as the university’s first associate dean for the first-year experience.

Heinricher came to WPI in 1992 as a faculty member in WPI’s Mathematical Sciences Department, where he is currently a professor. Since 2007, he has served as the university’s first associate dean for the first year experience, a position that oversees and coordinates the academic experience for the university’s first-year students. In that capacity, he was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Great Problems Seminars, which serve as an introduction to university-level research and project work and focus WPI students on themes of current global importance, including food, energy, infectious diseases, and materials science and sustainability.

"In his teaching and scholarship, as well as his significant accomplishments as associate dean, Art has shown himself to be exceptionally well qualified for this position,” said Provost John A. Orr. “Throughout his tenure at WPI, he has consistently been an advocate for undergraduates and has devoted himself to enhancing the quality and effectiveness of our academic programs and helping assure that our students have a successful and rewarding experience on our campus. I look forward to working with him to continue to advance one of the nation’s most innovative undergraduate programs.”

As dean of undergraduate studies, Heinricher will have overall responsibility for undergraduate education at WPI, providing leadership and working with the faculty to implement new undergraduate curricular and structural changes. Together with the vice president for student affairs and campus life, he will also work to ensure an appropriate balance and synergy between academics and student life. He will report to the provost.

Heinricher holds a bachelor of science in applied mathematics from the University of Missouri–St. Louis and a PhD in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University. He joined the WPI faculty after serving as an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky and a visiting assistant professor at the University of Tennessee. In 1996, he was awarded the Harold J. Gay Professorship in Mathematics, which recognizes younger faculty members who have demonstrated potential for achievement in mathematics research. He has been director of the university's Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics since 2003 and co-directed WPI’s REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program in industrial mathematics and statistics from 1998 to 2006. Supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the REU program brings college math students from across the nation to WPI each summer to work on research projects for business and industry.

Innovation in learning and teaching has been a significant focus for Heinricher throughout his tenure at WPI. In 1997, he was co-principal investigator for a grant from the National Science Foundation that supported the development of bridge projects that introduced first-year students to project work and helped them better integrate the content of their introductory math and science courses.

He was also involved in the development and implementation of Project-based Learning Communities and the award-winning Insight advising program, which are now cornerstones of the first-year program. He has also been involved in a number of programs aimed at enhancing pre-college mathematics education, including the Mathematics in Industry Institutes for Teachers and the Focus on Mathematics Partnership with five Boston-area school districts.