Gary Wnek, the Joseph F. Toot Jr. Professor of Engineering, has been named chair of the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering.
A renowned polymer researcher with particular expertise in nanomaterials and medical polymers, Wnek has been instrumental in championing the incorporation of entrepreneurship and innovation into the curriculum at the Case School of Engineering. He has held numerous leadership positions during his 15 years at the university, including faculty director of the Master of Engineering and Management degree program, faculty director of Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box], chair of the school’s Undergraduate Education Committee and associate dean of academics.
“Gary’s proven record of leadership and his dedication to the student experience make him a natural successor,” said Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan, the Charles H. Phipps Dean of the Case School of Engineering. “He is a true innovator in the lab and classroom alike and a great fit to build on the department’s strengths and move it forward.”
Wnek assumed the position of chair as of July 1, succeeding David Schiraldi, who served as chair for 10 years. During his tenure, the department pioneered integrating research into the formal first-year curriculum and saw a dramatic increase in undergraduate enrollment. He was also instrumental in launching the school’s fire science master’s degree track and championed diversifying research funding to encourage more industrially supported projects.
He was known across the department and school as an inspired teacher and highly collaborative colleague.
“Dave has been a joy to work with, and the entire school is grateful for his dedication and service as chair,” Balakrishnan said. “We will miss his leadership and unflagging passion for science and his students’ success.”
Wnek joined Case Western Reserve in 2004. His prior appointments include positions in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT and the Department of Chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was also the founding chair of the chemical engineering department at Virginia Commonwealth University.