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Pitt hires Rob A. Rutenbar as first senior vice chancellor for research

Pitt hires Rob A. Rutenbar as first senior vice chancellor for research


Rob Rutenbar will begin as senior vice chancellor for research starting in July. Photo courtesy of University of Pittsburgh



Ashwini Sivaganesh
and John Hamilton / The Pitt News Staff

April 11, 2017

The University of Pittsburgh hired

The University of Pittsburgh hired Rob A. Rutenbar Monday as the first senior vice chancellor for research, a new position that will oversee and integrate research at Pitt.

The search for the job began in October 2016, when Pitt held four town halls to get input on hiring for the new job. During this process, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said the right candidate would be someone who can work effectively in bureaucracy and promote collaboration.

Rutenbar, an entrepreneur who specializes in computer science, will manage the University’s Center for Research Computing, the Innovation Institute, the Office of Research and other departments with the goal of creating and implementing a “long-term plan for research infrastructure,” according to a press release.

“[Rutenbar’s] experience as a researcher, innovator, collaborator and entrepreneur — both inside and outside of the University — make Rob uniquely qualified to support our faculty’s research and innovation efforts and to champion Pitt research on a local, national and global scale,” Gallagher said in the release Monday.

Providing administrative support and economic partnerships will be major focuses for Rutenbar, according to the job description. He will report to Gallagher, who has focused heavily on research since becoming chancellor in 2014 — especially with recent endeavours to establish the Healthy Living and Innovation Institutes. Gallagher advocated for research commercialization in 2015, something Rutenbar will focus on in his new role.

“It takes a lot to take an idea from the ‘concept-breakthrough’ stage to a product that can be sold into the marketplace,” Rutenbar said in an interview with the Pitt Chronicle. “It literally takes a village.”

Rutenbar has worked in the computer science field for 40 years and currently heads the department of computer science at the University of Illinois. Before taking the position at the University of Illinois in 2010, he worked for 25 years through an endowed professorship in Carnegie Mellon’s department of electrical and computer engineering.

“Rob’s experiences and expertise in both the academic world and the private sector make him the perfect individual to fully integrate and expand upon Pitt’s University-level research and medical school endeavors,” Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine, said in the release.

He is also a successful entrepreneur who founded two technology firms — Neolinear Inc. in 1998 and Voci Technologies, Inc. in 2006. Rutenbar also has 14 U.S. patent grants to his name, and technology giants including AT&T, Google, IBM, the National Science Foundation and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance have funded some of his projects. In addition, Rutenbar has published eight books and 175 research articles.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Wayne State University in 1978 and master’s degree in 1979 and doctorate in 1984 in computer, information and control engineering from the University of Michigan. Rutenbar has also received several accolades for his work in computer science — including Carnegie Mellon’s Stephen J. Jatras Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2002.

“I am excited to be a part of the amazing intellectual and entrepreneurial ecosystem that has been transforming this city for the last quarter of a century,” Rutenbar said in the Pitt Chronicle  article. Monday as the first senior vice chancellor for research, a new position that will oversee and integrate research at Pitt.

The search for the job began in October 2016, when Pitt held four town halls to get input on hiring for the new job. During this process, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said the right candidate would be someone who can work effectively in bureaucracy and promote collaboration.

Rutenbar, an entrepreneur who specializes in computer science, will manage the University’s Center for Research Computing, the Innovation Institute, the Office of Research and other departments with the goal of creating and implementing a “long-term plan for research infrastructure,” according to a press release.

“[Rutenbar’s] experience as a researcher, innovator, collaborator and entrepreneur — both inside and outside of the University — make Rob uniquely qualified to support our faculty’s research and innovation efforts and to champion Pitt research on a local, national and global scale,” Gallagher said in the release Monday.

Providing administrative support and economic partnerships will be major focuses for Rutenbar, according to the job description. He will report to Gallagher, who has focused heavily on research since becoming chancellor in 2014 — especially with recent endeavours to establish the Healthy Living and Innovation Institutes. Gallagher advocated for research commercialization in 2015, something Rutenbar will focus on in his new role.

“It takes a lot to take an idea from the ‘concept-breakthrough’ stage to a product that can be sold into the marketplace,” Rutenbar said in an interview with the Pitt Chronicle. “It literally takes a village.”

Rutenbar has worked in the computer science field for 40 years and currently heads the department of computer science at the University of Illinois. Before taking the position at the University of Illinois in 2010, he worked for 25 years through an endowed professorship in Carnegie Mellon’s department of electrical and computer engineering.

“Rob’s experiences and expertise in both the academic world and the private sector make him the perfect individual to fully integrate and expand upon Pitt’s University-level research and medical school endeavors,” Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine, said in the release.

He is also a successful entrepreneur who founded two technology firms — Neolinear Inc. in 1998 and Voci Technologies, Inc. in 2006. Rutenbar also has 14 U.S. patent grants to his name, and technology giants including AT&T, Google, IBM, the National Science Foundation and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance have funded some of his projects. In addition, Rutenbar has published eight books and 175 research articles.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Wayne State University in 1978 and master’s degree in 1979 and doctorate in 1984 in computer, information and control engineering from the University of Michigan. Rutenbar has also received several accolades for his work in computer science — including Carnegie Mellon’s Stephen J. Jatras Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2002.

“I am excited to be a part of the amazing intellectual and entrepreneurial ecosystem that has been transforming this city for the last quarter of a century,” Rutenbar said in the Pitt Chronicle  article.

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