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For immediate release: June 26, 2002

Contact: Contact: Steven Schultz (609) 258-5729 or sschultz@princeton.edu

Maria Klawe, computer scientist, to become engineering dean

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Maria Klawe, a computer scientist and dean of science at the University of British Columbia, has been named dean of Princeton's School of Engineering and Applied Science, effective Jan. 1. She also will be appointed a professor in Princeton's Department of Computer Science.

Klawe succeeds James Wei, who, as previously announced, will step down June 30 to return to full-time teaching and research after 11 years in the post. James Sturm, a professor of electrical engineering and director of the Center for Photonics and Opto-Electronic Materials, will serve as interim dean through December.

"As dean of science at the University of British Columbia, Maria Klawe has shown a remarkable effectiveness in helping talented people from diverse disciplines work together to achieve results far greater than anything they expected to produce on their own," said Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman. "She comes to an engineering school that already has had many such achievements under the excellent leadership of Jim Wei. I look forward to working with Maria as she builds on this foundation and leads the school in meeting new challenges in the coming years."

Klawe has been a leader in both academia and industry. After receiving her bachelor's and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Alberta, Klawe held faculty positions in mathematics and computer science at Oakland University in Michigan and the University of Toronto in Canada. She then joined the IBM Almaden Research Center in California, where she founded and managed the Discrete Mathematics Group and served as manager of the Department of Mathematics and Related Computer Science.

After eight years at IBM, she returned to academia in 1988 to become the head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. She was appointed vice president for student and academic services in 1995 and dean of science in 1998. Klawe also is the incoming president of the Association for Computing Machinery, the international association of computer professionals.

"I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to lead Princeton's School of Engineering and Applied Science, which has so many people with outstanding talent and achievements," said Klawe.

In addition to forming more ties among its own disciplines, said Klawe, Princeton's engineering school has the opportunity to interact more closely with the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. "In so many ways," she said, "the current issues that need to be addressed require perspectives not just from different engineering disciplines, but from other communities of disciplines."

For example, Klawe said it is important for the engineering school to build upon its efforts to offer courses that attract students not majoring in the sciences.

"Technology plays a huge role in our society today, a fact that will become increasingly more important in coming decades. Leaders of the future need a good understanding of the potential benefits and pitfalls of technology," she said. "When we look at the education of every undergraduate at Princeton, I want to make sure that each has benefited from the fact that the University has an outstanding engineering school."

Recently Klawe's research has focused on the use of interactive multimedia technologies in teaching mathematics, reading and science. She has helped lead an interdisciplinary group of researchers in computer science and education, as well as teachers and software developers. She led the design of several software products, including one called "Phoenix Quest," a mathematical computer adventure game geared toward students aged 10 to 14, with particular attention to the interests of girls. Klawe also has a strong research record in theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics, especially in algorithms and data structures.

"With her professional background spanning mathematics and computer science, Maria Klawe has been promoting the interdisciplinary excellence that is becoming so characteristic of modern research and education in engineering," said Professor of Electrical Engineering Sigurd Wagner, who chaired the search committee that recommended Klawe to Tilghman. "She recognizes the importance of enabling faculty to pursue the initiatives that Princeton must take to stay at the forefront of academic engineering. The search committee members are truly pleased with Dean Klawe's decision to lead Princeton's School of Engineering and Applied Science."

Klawe's husband, Nick Pippenger, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Computer Science at the University of British Columbia, also will be coming to Princeton in summer 2003 as a professor in the Department of Computer Science.

Editors: A photograph is available at

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