Dean of the Donald P. Shiley School of Engineering Sharon Jones will be leaving the University of Portland on June 30, according to an email sent to faculty, staff and students from Rev. Mark Poorman. She will leave to become the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Washington Bothell. Jones has served as the Dean of the School of Engineering for the last eight years.
“It was an extremely difficult decision not only because of the students but also because my colleagues have made my time here so great,” Jones said in a phone interview.
Jones said that this change for her is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work in a place that will provide her with access to help many staff and students.
Jones believes that the School of Engineering has the right students, staff and structure to continue growing and have a very positive future. She is proud of the changes that she has witnessed during her time as dean.
“It takes more than one person to make a difference, luckily I had a great group of colleagues with me,” Jones said. “I think that in the time I have been here, the Shiley School of Engineering more well known in the community than before. Secondly, I think that the school now has a more diverse community and is welcoming to everyone.”
An interim dean has not been appointed, but Poorman said one will be “shortly.” Following her departure from UP, a national search for her replacement will begin.
Poorman described Jones, a tenured staff member, as an “exceptional” leader in the School of Engineering who succeeded in developing “innovative engineering professionals.”
Jones was the first female dean of engineering at UP in history. One of her initial goals, when she started as dean in 2011, was to increase the number of female engineers in the program. During the 2017-18 school year, five new female engineers were hired.
“She spearheaded numerous enhancements that advanced the school’s curriculum, forged sustainable relationships with significant philanthropic and industry partners, provided support for faculty development, and increased diversity among students and faculty,” Poorman said in the email.
Originally from the Caribbean Island of Trinidad, she is a first-generation college student and began college at the age of 16 at Columbia University. She graduated with a degree in civil engineering. Later on, she received a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida, a master in public administration from California State University at Long Beach and earned her doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Claire Desmarais is the news and managing editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at email@example.com. Carlos Fuentes contributed to this story.