Engineering dean finalists named; open forums set

Engineering dean finalists named; open forums set

Finalists to become the next dean of Nebraska Engineering are (from left) David Ashley, Lance C. Pérez and Mei Wei. Campus interviews begin April 18.
Finalists to become the next dean of Nebraska Engineering are (from left) David Ashley, Lance C. Pérez and Mei Wei. Campus interviews begin April 18.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has named three finalists in its search for the next dean of the College of Engineering.

Candidates for the position are David Ashley, professor of engineering practice at the University of Southern California; Lance C. Pérez, interim dean of engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; and Mei Wei, associate dean for research and graduate education and professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Connecticut.

Each candidate will spend time with university administrators and in the college interacting with the leadership team, faculty, staff and students. Candidates wil tour Nebraska Engineering facilities in Lincoln and at the Peter Kiewit Institute on the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Scott Campus. Alumni, college partners and the university community are invited to attend public presentations by and receptions for each candidate. Individuals attending the public presentations are encouraged to provide feedback on each candidate.

Wei's campus visit is April 18-20, with a public presentation and reception at 3:30 to 5 p.m. April 19 in the Kauffman Academic Residential Center's Great Hall. Wei’s candidate evaluation form is available online.

Ashley's campus visit is April 23-24, with a public presentation and reception at 3:30 to 5 p.m. April 24 in the Willa Cather Dining Complex's Red Cloud Room. Ashley's candidate evaluation form is available online.

Pérez's campus visit is April 25-27, with a public presentation and reception at 3:30 to 5 p.m. April 26 in the Willa Cather Dining Complex's Red Cloud Room. Pérez's candidate evaluation form is available online.


Mei Wei

Wei has been a member of the faculty in UConn's Department of Materials Science and Engineering since 2002. Her research centers on biomaterials and tissue engineering and she is a co-founder of a biomedical device start-up company.

Mei Wei
Mei Wei

Wei was named associate dean and appointed director of the $7.5 million General Electric-UConn Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials and Modeling in 2013. In the dual positions, Wei is heavily involved in research management, academic affairs, industrial collaboration, entrepreneurship and graduate education.

Under Wei's leadership, the school's research awards have more than doubled within three years. In 2015, Wei was also appointed interim department head of mechanical engineering. During an 18-month tenure, Wei helped stabilize the department.

In addition to being active in professional societies and external boards, Wei has a strong focus on junior faculty mentoring.

She has published more than 100 referred journal articles, filed six patents and published three book chapters.

Wei earned a Bachelor of Science in metallurgy materials engineering from China's Shenyang University of Technology, and master's and doctoral degrees in materials science and engineering from the University of South Wales in Australia.


David Ashley

Ashley has been a member of the faculty in the USC’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of its Megacities Center since August 2015. His research centers on designing and testing risk management responses and cost overruns/delays that occur in construction of largescale, complex projects.

David Ashley
David Ashley

Ashley retired as a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2015. He also served as UNLV’s eighth president from 2006 to 2009. Prior to joining UNLV, Ashley was founding executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, Merced. He also served as dean of engineering at Ohio State University from November 1997 to June 2001.

In his roles as a university administrator, Ashley’s primary emphasis has been on assuring academic quality through rigorous evaluation and planning processes that engage all appropriate constituencies. A central theme in his work as a campus leader has been to build or enhance each institution’s reputation as a leading university among its peers.

Ashley has remained active within professional societies and technical committees. His honors include earning the Peurifoy Research Award and the Construction Management Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers for his pioneering work on project risk management.

Ashley earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering-project management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also earned a master’s in engineering-economic systems and a doctorate in civil engineering-construction engineering and management from Stanford University.


Lance C. Pérez

Pérez has been a member of the faculty in Nebraska's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering since 1996. His research centers on wireless communications, informational processing and engineering education.

Lance C. Pérez
Lance C. Pérez

Pérez has worked as interim dean of Nebraska Engineering since July 2016. He previously served as an associate vice chancellor for academic affairs from Aug. 2010 to June 2016, and was part of the team that transitioned Nebraska into the Big Ten Academic Alliance. He served as dean of graduate studies from August 2013 to June 2016.

Between August 2008 and August 2010, Pérez was a program director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation. In that role, he managed a portfolio of awards totaling more than $30 million and worked on projects involving the National Academy of Engineering and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

He received a National Science Foundation CAREER award and has been the principal or co-principal investigator on grant projects totaling more than $15 million.

Pérez earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia, and Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree, both focused on electrical engineering, from the University of Notre Dame.


A 16-member committee made up of faculty, staff, students and college stakeholders has led the search for Nebraska Engineering’s next dean. The committee was led by Kathy Farrell, dean of the College of Business.

The engineering dean will join the university at a pivotal moment in the institution’s history and in the college’s trajectory. Nebraska Engineering which will celebrate its 110th year in 2019, is undergoing an exciting period of growth, including 11 straight years of record enrollment. In the last three years, 56 new faculty positions have been added with 14 more positions in process.

The new dean will have the opportunity to define and implement a strategic vision for the college’s talented faculty, staff and student population. The dean will also play a key role in guiding the construction of a new engineering facility and renovation of existing spaces.

The Nebraska Engineering dean reports directly to the executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. Learn more about the search.