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Meet + Greet: Mei Wei, Dean of the Russ College of Engineering

 | Sep 3, 2019
Mei Wei Meet and Greet

Meet + Greet: Mei Wei, Dean of the Russ College of Engineering

Sep 3, 2019

When considering the position of dean, what drew you to Athens?

Athens is a cozy small town, but has a rich culture. At the Russ College, we have outstanding faculty members, dedicated staff, motivated students, highly committed alumni and friends, unique academic programs, and the Russ gift.  All these have provide great opportunities for a new dean to work collaboratively with stakeholders to bring the College to a new level.

Did you bring anyone with you to Athens?

Yes – my husband, Jeff; and our children, Kenney, who is 14; and Celina, who is 11.

Where did you prepare for your profession as an engineer, and what was most memorable about your experience?

Growing up in a family with both parents as engineers, choosing engineering as my career path was never a surprise to me. However, only after I became a professor did I realize the significant gender imbalance in the engineering world. One of my top priorities as a dean is to promote diversity in engineering and technology. I look forward to seeing more underrepresented students enter the fields.

What would you say is your professional superpower? Or, your greatest professional accomplishment?

My greatest professional accomplishment is seeing that my knowledge and management skills can make a difference in the lives of students and faculty, and contribute to the advancement of a college.  I was a faculty member at the University of Connecticut (UConn) for 17 years and an associate dean for six of those years. Meanwhile, I also served as the director of the $7.5 million UConn-General Electric Center for Advanced Materials and Modeling, founding director of the Masters of Engineering in Global Entrepreneurship program, and interim department head of the department of mechanical engineering. It’s always great to see students graduate and do well in their career, junior faculty grow and become successful, and senior faculty take leadership roles at both the university and in professional societies. It’s gratifying to see a college move upward and become better recognized among peers.

At the Russ College, we "create for good." You'll be hearing this a lot because it's true. How will you "create for good" while you're at the Russ College?

As a dean, I feel there is a lot I can do to lead the college to “create for good,” such as how to increase diversity in the College, improve student success, further improve our research and teaching excellence, enhance our collaboration with industry, better engage our alumni and friends, and make an impact on the community.

What's the most fun, odd, or exciting thing about Athens so far? 

It seems that everything is always a 15-minute drive, no matter where I go!

What’s the best local food you’ve had, or local spot you've visited, and why?

Avalanche pizza. There are so many different kinds. So far, my family and I have tried four different flavors, and we love them all.


What are some of your hobbies?

Walking and traveling.

Name a top travel destination, and say why.

Sydney, Australia. I absolutely love the beautiful beaches, authentic cuisines from different countries,  cultural diversity, and my old friends.

What's something students would never guess about you? And what advice would you give them heading into fall semester?

I‘ve studied in many countries. I did my undergraduate study in China, graduate study in Australia, and postdoc in Japan.

As far as advice: Have an open mind and try new things. Don’t limit yourself. At the Russ College, we provide you with so many opportunities. Take advantage of them. Use a couple of summers to do an internship, work in a professor’s lab to learn how research is conducted, study abroad to learn a different culture, develop a better understanding of graduate school, explore minor programs, or join the Engineering Ambassadors program or another group.

What are you looking forward to most during your time here at the Russ College?

I look for you to provide me with feedback and suggestions, and especially new ideas. I look forward to working with all of you to bring the College to a new level!