To: The Tandon School of Engineering Community

From: NYU President Andrew Hamilton and Provost Katherine E. Fleming

Date: Monday, April 2, 2018

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Jelena Kovačević as Dean of the Tandon School of Engineering, effective August 15, 2018.  Kovačević, who has 21 patents to her name and whose research interests include biomedical imaging as well as multiresolution techniques such as wavelets and frames, is the Hamerschlag University Professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon.  She will be the first woman to lead the school in its 164-year history.

The restoration of engineering at NYU and the generous support of the new engineering school by the Tandons will prove to be among NYU’s truly pivotal moments.  And in the short span of years since, Tandon has shown remarkable progress. No NYU school or program is more sought after for collaborations than is engineering. It has led the way in connecting us to Brooklyn’s vibrancy and promise as a creative hub for technology. And we are investing some $500 million in improvements to its facilities and programs.  

This is a “moment” for Tandon, and in Jelena Kovačević we have found just the right person to lead the school.

She impressed the committee in particular with her thoughtful approach to strategy and leadership: that vision must be informed by data and accompanied by execution, and execution must be supported by structure. At Carnegie Mellon, she led the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering through an impressive strategic planning process notable for its comprehensiveness and inclusiveness, an effort that took account not just of faculty, research, and undergraduate and graduate education, but also diversity, industrial partnerships, external relations, development, operations and management, and infrastructure. And she has been deeply engaged the department’s global academic efforts in Rwanda, Thailand, and Portugal.   

Perhaps even more importantly, it is clear that Jelena intuitively understands Tandon’s academic trajectory, and what it means for applied sciences at NYU, for NYU’s role in Brooklyn’s innovation economy, and for engineering in a global academic setting. In the last 10 years, Tandon has advanced nearly 40 places in the rankings, research funding has more than quadrupled, freshman SAT scores have increased by more than 150 points, and the percentage of female undergraduates has nearly doubled to 35 percent. In addition to the University’s plan to improve the school’s facilities, we have begun siting additional applied sciences and tech programs at 370 Jay Street.

We have confidence that Jelena knows how to build on Tandon’s momentum and seamlessly connect with the burgeoning local tech sector.

Jelena Kovačević has been a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University since 2003; she was named the Schramm Professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2014, and named the Hamerschlag University Professor in 2016. From 1991 through 2002, she worked at Bell Laboratories as a Member of Technical Staff in the Signal Processing Research Department, and later as a member of the Mathematics of Communications Research Department.

Her research interests include applying data science to a number of domains, such as biology, medicine, and smart infrastructure, and she is an authority on multi-resolution techniques, such as wavelets and frames.  She is the author or co-author of several books – including Foundations of Signal Processing (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and Wavelets and Subband Coding (Prentice Hall, 1995) – and many scholarly articles in reviewed engineering journals. She has 21 patents to her name. Among her many honors and awards, she is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the European Signal Processing Conference (EUSIPCO), and a recipient of the Belgrade October Prize (1986), the EI Jury Prize at Columbia University (1991), the CIT Philip L. Dowd Fellowship (2010), and the IEEE SPS Technical Achievement Award (2016).

She received her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Belgrade. She received her MS and Ph.D. also in electrical engineering from Columbia University.

We thank the Search Committee members, and especially its chair, Professor Kurt Becker of the Tandon School, for their hard work, but especially for their discernment. They took on the task of identifying a new dean on top of all their existing academic duties, and by virtue of the high bar they set, they have brought us a superb new dean in Jelena Kovačević.

The school Jelena Kovačević will lead is very different from the institution with which NYU first formed an affiliation in 2008. In virtually every academic dimension, there have been extraordinary improvements, and much of that should be ascribed to Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, who has been dean since 2013. In addition, Sreeni was ever conscious of the school’s place in the Brooklyn community. He ensured that the school remained a point of pride for and an active participant in the borough by connecting STEM educational resources to the community and integrating Tandon’s students and faculty into Brooklyn’s robust entrepreneurial culture. NYU is grateful to Sreeni for his outstanding leadership.

Please join us in welcoming Jelena to the Tandon and NYU community and offering her congratulations and best wishes on her appointment as dean.