Today (Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019) is the first day on the job for Dr. Mohammad (Mo) Dehghani, the new chancellor of Missouri S&T and the 22nd leader in the institution’s 149-year history.
“I am excited, honored and humbled to lead this great university,” Dehghani says, “and I’m ready and eager to be a member of the S&T family and look forward to engaging with our great communities.”
Dehghani joins Missouri S&T from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, where he served as vice provost for research, innovation and entrepreneurship from 2013 until the end of July. Dehghani succeeds Dr. Christopher G. Maples, who served as Missouri S&T’s interim chancellor from May 2017 through July 31.
University of Missouri System President Mun Choi announced Dehghani’s selection as chancellor in May following an extensive national search. In his announcement, Choi called Dehghani “a nationally prominent research and academic leader who has the experience leading complex organizations by leading with vision and building collaborative teams.”
“It’s clear to me,” Choi added, “that he has the skills and expertise to help Missouri S&T reach its ambitious goals to solve some of Missouri’s – and the nation’s – most complex and urgent problems.”
A record of leadership
Dehghani’s selection involved a 23-member search committee co-chaired by Dr. Francisca Oboh-Ikuenobe, Missouri S&T professor of geology and geophysics and biological sciences, and Thomas R. Voss, a 1969 electrical engineering graduate of S&T and retired president and chief executive officer of Ameren. Both cite Dehghani’s leadership record as evidence of his ability to lead Missouri S&T.
“Dr. Dehghani is a proven academic leader with an impressive research record,” says Oboh-Ikuenobe. “He is known as a collaborative leader who emphasizes the importance of bringing people from diverse groups together for a common purpose.”
“I am very impressed with Dr. Dehghani’s experience and background,” Voss says. “He brings a wealth of research expertise to this position, as well as a strong passion for educational excellence. I believe that under his leadership, Missouri S&T will continue to thrive as one of the nation’s leading STEM-focused research universities.”
A native of Tehran, Iran, Dehghani came to the United States and attended Louisiana State University, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering. At LSU, he was elected to serve as graduate student representative on the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Faculty and Students Committee. Upon completing his Ph.D., Dehghani went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Science Foundation.
For the past 22 years, Dehghani has taken on leadership responsibilities at two major research universities and two national laboratories. Prior to joining Stevens, he was associate director for engineering at the Applied Physics Laboratory, a professor of mechanical engineering, and the founding director of the Johns Hopkins University Systems Institute (JHUSI). At JHUSI, he established research and application programs with federal research agencies including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Health and Human Services. He helped align those agencies’ research efforts with the work occurring at Hopkins through the university’s medical, public health and engineering schools as well as its Applied Physics Laboratory.
Before joining Hopkins in 2008, Dehghani served as the New Technologies Division leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California. LLNL is a U.S. Department of Energy multidisciplinary applied science and engineering national security laboratory with programs in advanced defense technologies, energy, environment, biosciences and basic sciences. At Lawrence Livermore, Dehghani helped develop technologies and expand many areas of engineering, including biomedical engineering, nuclear engineering, process systems and the traditional engineering disciplines of mechanical engineering, electronics, fluidics, and multi-scale modeling and simulations.
Dehghani also spent a dozen years as a tenured faculty member of the mechanical engineering department at Ohio University in Athens, where he also served as the elected senator representing the College of Engineering in the faculty senate until his departure in 1996 to join LLNL.
The new “3 R’s”
Dehghani’s immediate focus at S&T will be to learn as much as he can about the campus and the UM System. In an email he sent today to students, faculty and staff, Dehghani wrote: “Embarking on this new chapter in our nearly 150-year history, I admit that I have a lot to learn – and I am confident that I will learn much from you. Indeed, we must work together to achieve greater excellence and make the 2019-20 school year the best ever.”
In addition, he plans to home in on what he calls his “3 R’s” of recruitment, retention and research.
“It’s important that we grow in all three areas,” Dehghani says. “If we only recruit students but don’t retain them, then we do a disservice to those students and to society. If we strengthen our research efforts, we will be able to recruit more graduate students as well as raise our profile nationally and internationally.”
He’s quick to add a fourth R to his list: reputation.
“With the right recruitment, retention and research strategies in place, we will be well-positioned to take S&T to a higher level of national recognition and relevance,” Dehghani says. “To do that, we must also create new, modern programs in many areas to make S&T the destination of choice for a new generation of students who are interested in being a part of the solution to grand global challenges.” He adds, “I consider the opportunity of serving Missouri S&T as its chancellor a personal and professional honor as I recognize the recent and historic achievements of this great institution. Missouri S&T is at an exciting point in its evolution to enhance its national standing and achieve further prominence among top public, land-grant research universities.”
Dehghani is married to Dr. Mina (Saffari) Dehghani. They have one son, Devon, as well as a Brittany spaniel named Ginger and a tabby cat named Masghati.