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Westgate reflects on tenure as Watson School dean

Charles R. Westgate, who will soon step down after six years as dean of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, said he has been gratified to see the school grow in terms of faculty, enrollment, facilities and stature.

“I’ve enjoyed working with the faculty, staff and students and genuinely enjoyed my teaching,” said Westgate, who prefers to be called Roger. “It’s been a pleasure to see the school improve so quickly.”

Watson, the fastest-growing engineering school in the Northeast, has experienced steady growth since 1992. Westgate said there has been a 65 percent increase in faculty and a doubling in research awards during his tenure. Enrollment has surpassed 2,000 across the undergraduate and graduate levels.

William Berical, vice president of engineering at BAE Systems Platform Solutions in Johnson City, is chairman of the Watson School’s Advisory Committee and recalls interviewing Westgate when he was a candidate for the job.
“He impressed us then and he has impressed us even more after

six years,” Berical said. “The new dean was expected to take the school to the next level. Roger truly has done that.”

Westgate, Watson’s second dean, credits the school’s faculty and students with its success. “The faculty have done a great job and Binghamton’s well-deserved reputation for excellent students is another important factor,” he said.

Westgate noted the school’s growth has been designed to foster clusters of faculty experts in certain fields. There are such clusters in materials engineering, information security, low-power computing and grid and distributed computing, for instance.

“I don’t think we’ve exhausted our possibilities,” Westgate added, “particularly with a new building coming on line in 2011.”

He feels the school has also strengthened its ties to industry, both in Greater Binghamton and beyond, in part through new initiatives such as the Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging. Space for student and faculty researchers has also been expanded.

“He deserves tremendous credit for his perseverance in getting that plan to fruition,” Berical said, noting a shortage of research space was a major challenge Westgate faced when he arrived. “He’s done an outstanding job from industry’s perspective.”

Westgate, a Broome County native, holds a bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Princeton University. Before coming to Binghamton, he was a professor and administrator at Johns Hopkins University for 35 years.

Westgate will return to Johns Hopkins this fall to teach part time and do research. He’ll teach electromagnetics, just as he has at Binghamton, and divide his time between the Southern Tier and Baltimore.

Before the fall semester begins, though, Westgate plans to join a group of 500 bicyclists for a 400-mile ride along the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08