College of Engineering dean to be honored, steps down from deanship


After more than 12 years as Dean of the College of Engineering — a period during which the college experienced extraordinary growth — George K. Haritos, Ph.D. has announced that he will step down as dean, take a year-long sabbatical and return to The University of Akron as a full-time faculty member.   

George K. Haritos

George K. Haritos

“Dean Haritos informed us of his plans and we intend to celebrate and note his contributions during this weekend’s commencement ceremonies,” said UA President Scott L. Scarborough. “After all, the dean will be awarding diplomas to the largest class in the history of the college, with more students earning baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees than ever before, including the nation’s first graduating baccalaureate class of corrosion engineers.”

Under his leadership, the College of Engineering has enjoyed tremendous growth and student success. Since he began as dean in 2003, the undergraduate and graduate enrollments combined more than doubled, and job placement among College of Engineering graduates is more than 93 percent.

College poised for greater contributions

“It has been a historical time for the college and for me, especially being able to celebrate our centennial last year,” said Haritos. “From personal and professional points of view, it has been a distinct honor for me to work alongside some of the nation’s most talented faculty, staff and students. The college is now poised for even greater contributions and innovation in its next century. I intend to use my sabbatical year to research and study some of the best-known engineering programs around the nation, including those at Georgia Tech, Stanford, Virginia Tech and Purdue, and return to campus to advise new leadership.”   

“The growth in enrollment and quadrupling of research expenditures under Dean Haritos’ leadership is impressive,” noted Mike Sherman, UA Provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “The outcome of that research is truly improving lives and benefiting society.  For example, the Conquer Chiari Research Center stimulates collaboration among scientists, engineers and physicians throughout the nation working to improve the human condition. And the Timken Engineered Surfaces Laboratories represents a transformational public-private collaboration that serves as a model for academia and industry working together to improve society.” 

In response to industry demands and under his guidance, the College of Engineering introduced two new, unique-in-the-nation undergraduate programs: B.S. Aerospace Systems Engineering and B.S. Corrosion Engineering. In 2014, as the College of Engineering celebrated its 100th anniversary, the first graduates of the B.S. Aerospace Systems Engineering program earned their degrees.

Research funding and key partnerships grow

In the last five years, research expenditures have grown from $4 million to more than $16 million, and 80,000 square feet of new research space was added to the college. Haritos has played an instrumental role in developing key partnerships with industry and governmental agencies, and in 2012, the Akron Engineering Research Center opened and became home to the Timken Engineered Surfaces Laboratories (TESL), the National Center for Education and Research in Corrosion and Materials Performance (NCERCAMP), the Center for Tire Research, an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (CenTiRe), the Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering (WCSSE) and the Conquer Chiari Research Center.

Prior to joining The University of Akron, Haritos was an officer in the United States Air Force, with 19 total assignments, including two as commander, in 11 different locations and diverse roles. He retired from the Air Force in the rank of colonel. In his last Air Force assignment he served as the commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology. As head of the Institute, Haritos was responsible for administering the Air Force´s graduate programs in science and engineering, acquisition, logistics, civil engineering and environmental management. He oversaw professional continuing education courses for more than 18,000 students per year from the military and civilian sectors of the U.S. Department of Defense, other federal agencies, and allied countries. Prior to his appointment as commandant of the institute, Haritos served first as associate dean of the Graduate School of Engineering and later as vice commandant of AFIT.

Prior to his work at AFIT, Haritos served as deputy director and commander of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Washington, D.C. That was his second tour of duty at AFOSR. He previously served there as program manager, and later as director of the Aerospace Sciences Directorate, and as associate director, AFOSR.

While serving as commander and deputy director, AFOSR, he represented the Air Force on the Defense Committee on Research (DCOR) and was also assigned as the U.S. chair on the Technology Working Group between Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) and the French Defense Research and Technology Department. Over his military career, he was honored with major awards and decorations: The Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and National Defense Service Medal with service star.

Haritos, who received his Ph.D. in Engineering from Northwestern University, is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and a life member of the Air Force Association (AFA). He serves on the Board of Directors for the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network (MAGNET) and the Board of Directors of the Ohio Aerospace Institute.