Mark Somerville Named New Provost and Dean of Faculty at Olin College

November 9, 2020

Olin College of Engineering announced that Mark Somerville has been named the College’s new provost and dean of faculty, effective immediately. 

In this capacity, Somerville will serve as the college’s chief academic officer.  

“I am thrilled that Mark accepted this position. He has ably guided the College’s academic programs throughout almost two years of transition as interim provost,” said President Gilda Barabino. “His innovative spirit and his deep respect for Olin, its culture and its people will be invaluable as we face the future. Mark will work closely with me as we continue to develop the framework that will allow us to craft the strategic direction for Olin’s next decade.” 

Mark Somerville, Provost and Dean of Faculty
Mark Somerville, Provost and Dean of Faculty

“I am deeply honored and excited to join President Barabino’s team and to step into the provost role.  I came to Olin almost two decades ago because I was deeply committed to and inspired by the idea of rethinking and driving change in education, and I accepted the provost position for exactly the same reasons.”

In 2001, Somerville joined Olin College as an assistant professor of electrical engineering and physics. He played an important role in designing student and faculty experiences at Olin, including many of the innovative college’s first classes. 

Over the past 19 years, Somerville has been extensively involved in further developing Olin’s curriculum as well as teaching many of Olin’s foundational courses. He made major contributions to the creation of Olin’s Summer Institute, the redesign of Olin’s reappointment and promotion process, and the development of Olin’s first major partnership with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Most recently, he co-led Olin’s effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to his work inside Olin College, Somerville has collaborated around the world to apply Olin’s learnings to the design and development of new academic programs, from Fulbright University in Ho Chi Minh City to the Woodrow Wilson Academy in Boston to NMITE, a new engineering school in Hereford, England. 

Somerville is also co-author of “A Whole New Engineer: The Coming Revolution in Engineering Education.”

Prior to coming to Olin, Somerville taught physics at Vassar College. His technical background focuses on high-speed semiconductor devices, with particular emphasis on measurement and physical modeling of performance limitations.

As Olin College enters its third decade and seeks new challenges related to changing engineering education, Somerville will work closely with President Barabino to design and implement the plan.

About the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

Founded in 1997, Olin instills passion and ignites innovation in its students and prepares them to envision, create and deliver products, services and systems that transform and improve people’s lives around the world. Olin teaches students to be explorers and creators who design their own path forward. By challenging norms and sharing its unique approach to education, Olin is revolutionizing the way engineers, and all undergraduates, learn and create knowledge. Located in Needham, Massachusetts, Olin is ranked among the top three undergraduate engineering programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

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