Sharon Wood, a structural engineer and chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, has been appointed interim dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.
Wood will fill the vacancy left by Gregory Fenves, who was announced as the University’s new executive vice president and provost last month.
Wood, who is the school’s first female dean and was the first female department chair in the Cockrell School, said she is excited about the challenges the position will present — particularly the work she will do to secure funding for the University’s planned Engineering Education and Research Center. The building did not receive a tuition revenue bond in the most recent legislative session.
“It’s a really exciting time at the school,” Wood said. “We will need to raise the funds to move forward with our new building … but I’ve been involved from the beginning and I’m really looking forward to that challenge.”
Though Wood said she is excited to begin the process, she said accepting the offered position was not an easy decision.
“It actually took me a couple of days to decide [to become the interim dean],” Wood said. “Professionally, there are many benefits, but I was going to teach a class this semester, and I’m going to have to give that up. I’ll also have to cut back on my research for the year.”
Wood said accepting the position ultimately seemed like the best choice.
“I just had to weigh factors,” she said.
In a statement, UT’s outgoing Executive Vice President and Provost Steven Leslie, said he is confident in Wood’s ability to lead the School of Engineering.
“The Cockrell School of Engineering will be in the hands of a distinguished and skillful leader as Sharon Wood assumes her responsibilities as interim dean,” Leslie said in the statement. “She has been an integral part of the Cockrell leadership team and has the research and administrative acumen to continue to propel the school in developing engineering leaders for tomorrow.”
Wood said she hopes her visibility as a female dean will help inspire new female engineering students.
“It’s important for women to have role models,” Wood said. “It’s important to see women as faculty members, department chairs and in the administration.”
Wood, a fourth-generation civil engineer, said her role models were her family members.
“I decided I wanted to be a civil engineer when I was about eight years old,” Wood said. “My dad took me out to a construction site.”