Mary Cunningham Boyce Appointed Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

March 26, 2013

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am pleased to announce my appointment of MIT Professor Mary Cunningham Boyce as the new dean of Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

A distinguished scholar in the field of mechanical engineering and a devoted educator, Mary Boyce comes to Columbia after more than 25 years at MIT, where she is currently the Ford Professor of Engineering and Department Head of Mechanical Engineering. She also holds positions on the MIT Engineering Council and the MIT International Advisory Council.

Professor Boyce’s research interests include the molecular and nanomechanics of polymers, soft composites and soft tissues—studying the elastic, thermal and kinetic properties of physical systems at the nanometer scale. Her leadership in the field of the mechanics of materials, both those that are manufactured and those formed naturally, has expanded understanding of the interplay between micro-geometry and the inherent physical behavior of a material, which has led to innovative hybrid material designs. Models and results from Professor Boyce’s group have the potential to influence a range of industrial and academic fields from polymer processing to composite material design, tire mechanics, biological cells and tissues. Her expertise will further enhance Columbia’s strength in the study of nanotechnology and nanomaterials.

Mary Boyce is known for her dedication to academic collaboration and celebrated for her leadership in overseeing research teams that bring together faculty from different departments and universities. The author of more than 150 publications with her group, she has received numerous honors in recognition of her achievements, including election as a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. 

A graduate of Virginia Tech and MIT, where she earned her Ph.D., Mary has distinguished herself throughout her academic career not only as a scholar but also as a teacher and mentor driven by an abiding commitment to nurturing the next generation of engineers. The MacVicar Faculty Fellow for outstanding teaching, mentoring and educational innovation and the Joseph Henry Keenan Innovation in Undergraduate Education Award are just two of the honors she received during her tenure at MIT.

Columbia is fortunate to welcome such an impressive dean at a time of both signal accomplishment and new opportunity for our School of Engineering and Applied Science as it approaches its 150th anniversary. In an information-rich society that is ever more driven by both the challenges and opportunities presented by new technology, the engineering school's intellectual leadership is essential to the university's ability to have an impact on our world. Increasingly at Columbia, our engineering school is playing this vital role through an extraordinary breadth of interdisciplinary academic research that ranges from biomedical engineering to sustainable energy.

I have every confidence that Mary Boyce will provide the kind of leadership to make the most of the remarkable talent and dedication that exists at Columbia Engineering. I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the search committee, led by Provost John Coatsworth, for their hard work and dedication, as well as all of the other students and faculty who participated in this important process. We all also owe our thanks to Professor Donald Goldfarb for his longtime service to the school and his willingness to take on the responsibilities of Interim Dean this past academic year.

For the present, please join me in welcoming Mary Cunningham Boyce as the next dean of Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.


Lee C. Bollinger