Dr. Warren K. (Kent) Wray, professor of civil engineering and former provost at Michigan Technological University (MTU) in Houghton, Mich., will become provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri-Rolla effective Aug. 1, UMR Chancellor John F. Carney III announced Friday, May 19.
As provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, Wray will oversee UMR’s academic programs as well as enrollment management, pre-college programs, information technology, research and sponsored programs, technology transfer, undergraduate and graduate studies programs, and distance and continuing education and international programs. He replaces Dr. Y.T. Shah, who has served as UMR’s provost since July 2001.
“I am very excited about joining UMR,” says Wray. “I have always known about UMR’s reputation as an outstanding university and I look forward to being associated with the faculty, staff and students of UMR. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with and for Chancellor Carney and accomplish the goals that have been set out in the university’s evolving strategic plan.”
“Kent Wray has outstanding academic and administrative credentials,” says Carney. “His experience as a provost, dean, department chair, professor and researcher has prepared him well for UMR.”
Wray served as provost at MTU from September 2000 through August 2005. During that time, he directed an enrollment plan that resulted in a 20 percent increase in graduate enrollment and increases in first-year applications, admits and enrollment. Wray reversed a downward trend in student retention at MTU. That figure currently stands at 82 percent and continues to rise. He also completed MTU’s new strategic plan, which proved instrumental in helping the campus move up in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, and broadened the university’s curriculum by adding several new degree programs.
Wray also served as senior vice president of academic and student affairs during his five-year tenure as provost at MTU.
Prior to joining MTU, Wray served as dean of Ohio University’s Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology from 1996-2000. He also served as Ohio University’s Cruse Moss Professor of Engineering Education. From 1990-1996, Wray was professor and chair of civil engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. He joined Texas Tech’s civil engineering faculty in 1978 as an assistant professor, and was promoted to associate professor in 1984 and to full professor in 1989.
A noted teacher and researcher, Wray has received seven college and universitywide teaching and research awards. He also has led or co-led more than 20 geotechnical and transportation engineering research projects during his academic career. His research interests center on expansive clay theory and practice, soil-structure interaction, slab-on-ground theory and performance, and pavement-subgrade interaction.
Wray received his bachelor of science degree in physics with a history minor from Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., in 1967 and a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Kansas State University in 1968. He earned a master of science degree in civil engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1974 and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Texas A&M University in 1978.
Wray served in the Air Force from 1968-1976 and the Air Force Reserves from 1976-1990. He retired from the reserves with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Wray’s professional affiliations include membership in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), where he has served as chair of the national Department Heads Council, the Codes and Standards Activity Committee and the Geo-Institute’s Shallow Foundation Committee. He currently serves as a control group member of the ASCE Codes and Standards Committee, and chair of the national ASCE Standards Committee for Design of Residential Structures on Expansive Soil.