Photo of Jim McGuffin-Cawley

James McGuffin-Cawley steps up again for CWRU

Faculty director of think[box] starts this week as interim VP for research and technology management

Provost Ben Vinson III announced today that James McGuffin-Cawley, faculty director for the Larry Sears and Sally Zlonick Sears think[box], took on a second campus leadership role this week: interim vice president for research and technology management.

“Jim brings a tremendous amount of administrative experience as well as a strong desire to create opportunities, elevate research, and support faculty of all ranks across the university,” Provost Vinson said. “We are very grateful that he has accepted this interim role while still forging ahead with the incredible work happening at Sears think[box].”

McGuffin-Cawley succeeds renowned cystic fibrosis researcher and medical school faculty member Mitch Drumm, who became interim vice president in the spring of 2020. While Drumm has returned primarily to his medical school roles—the Connie and Jim Brown Professor of Cystic Fibrosis Research, vice chair of translational research in Genetics and Genome Sciences and director of the Willard A. Bernbaum Cystic Fibrosis Research Center—he also will support McGuffin-Cawley as an advisor in the near term. 

portrait of Mitch Drumm
Mitch Drumm

“Bringing Jim into the VP office will be a wonderful addition to our research operations,” Drumm said. “Jim and I have a great working relationship and we will ensure a smooth transition.”

Provost Vinson commended Drumm for improving processes for grant submissions and research across schools. Most importantly, Vinson said, Drumm provided steady and supportive leadership to the campus research enterprise during the height of the pandemic.

“I am proud of how the university research community weathered the COVID-19 storm, responsibly and creatively dealing with the difficulties it created,” Drumm said. “What I’ve learned about university operations and research administration will hopefully benefit many others as I transition back to my own research.”

McGuffin-Cawley is an accomplished researcher, teacher, administrator and innovator. This appointment marks the second time McGuffin-Cawley has served in an interim leadership role; he was interim dean of the Case School of Engineering from July 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018.

During McGuffin-Cawley’s time at think[box], the makerspace and innovation facility has made several equipment acquisitions to better serve humanities research and creative endeavors. Think[box] staff also are helping researchers hone their proposals by providing opportunities for broader impact and facilities support.

“Over the past year, think[box] staff have begun to be active members of externally funded research projects and we have expanded the ways in which we can help proposals be more competitive,” McGuffin-Cawley said. “I am grateful every day to be working with the individual staff members who are the personification of team-players. My biggest joy is seeing the impact on the students and other users.”

McGuffin-Cawley will maintain his faculty director role at think[box] while also leading research.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in ceramic engineering from Alfred University, McGuffin-Cawley went on to earn his doctorate in ceramic science from Case Western Reserve in 1984. He then spent two years working in northeast Ohio at NASA before joining the engineering faculty at The Ohio State University. He returned to Case Western Reserve in 1991 and has since held numerous roles, including associate dean of academics for engineering, the chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and associate dean for research at the Case School of Engineering.

McGuffin-Cawley said that he looks forward to finding ways to better serve those who are dedicating their careers to serving the research mission of the university.

Case Western Reserve soon will begin a national search for the university’s next leader for research and technology management.