DATE: May 2, 2023
TO: The Tandon School Community
FROM: President Andrew Hamilton and Interim Provost Gigi Dopico

The re-establishment of an engineering school at NYU has proven to be one of the most beneficial and consequential developments of the last half-century to NYU’s advancement. And over the past five years, the drive to build a future for engineering at NYU that was equal to the Tandons’ extraordinary gift, to advocate for investment in the school, to ensure rigor and excellence, and to make the school a center of collaboration within NYU and beyond has had no greater champion than Jelena Kovačević.

As she indicated in her note earlier today, Jelena has decided to step down as the Tandon School’s second dean at the end of academic year 2023-2024 and return to the faculty and her scholarly pursuits. Though there will be numerous opportunities to recognize her contributions to NYU and to Tandon in the coming year, this is an apt moment to look back at the many accomplishments of her tenure.

Coming to NYU from Carnegie Mellon in 2018—at a time when New York was firmly establishing itself as a global center of technology and was eager for engineering talent—Jelena grasped the moment and promptly began creating a strategic plan, The Tandon Torch. She set out to devise new opportunities for collaboration in some of the most pressing areas facing our society today: AI, robotics, cybersecurity, emerging media, sustainability, wireless communications, health and urban innovation, to name just a few. Notwithstanding the challenges and disruptions of the pandemic, during her deanship, Tandon has had 13 faculty recognized with NSF Early CAREER Awards; research expenditures have grown significantly; some 30 tenured/tenure-track faculty and nearly 40 full-time contract faculty have been hired; applications for admission have increased by some 70%, and the proportion of women in the first-year class came to exceed 45%; and the school launched important new endeavors, including the Experiential Learning Center, the Global Leaders and Scholars in STEM (GLASS) Honors program, the Tandon Unconventional Engineer vision, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, and the Sustainable Engineering Initiative.

Just as importantly, Jelena brought great focus to creating a sense of community, knitting together Tandon’s past, present, and future, fostering pride in the school and the profession, and filling the school with Brooklyn’s special form of ambition and confidence.

The University is investing, in total, some $1 billion in Tandon’s future, in no small measure because of the foundation for excellence that she has helped build.

The timetable Jelena has set will enable us to find a worthy successor and have that person in place for the start of the 2024-2025 academic year. We will be in touch again in the near future with additional information about the search process.

In the meantime, we ask you to join us now in offering our thanks to Jelena Kovačević for the outstanding service she has rendered as dean, in applauding her many successes, and in wishing her every success as she returns to the faculty.