Alumnus Chris Roberts Named Dean of Engineering at Auburn

Author: Kevin Zeise

Christopher B. Roberts, department chair and the George E. and Dorothy Stafford Uthlaut Professor of Chemical Engineering in Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, has been named dean of the college effective July 1, 2012. Roberts earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Notre Dame in 1994 and a master’s in the same program two years earlier.

Roberts succeeds Larry Benefield, who is retiring after 33 years at Auburn and who has served as dean of the college since 1998.

“Dr. Roberts has an outstanding record of achievement in teaching and research and has demonstrated exceptional leadership as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering,” said Auburn Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Timothy Boosinger. “I am confident that he has the ability to significantly advance the college’s mission and I look forward to working with him in the coming years.”

Roberts came to Auburn in 1994 as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and has been chair of that department since 2003.

“I am extremely pleased and humbled to have been appointed as the new dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering,” said Roberts. "I certainly look forward to assisting our students and faculty to reach our full collective potential, and we will continue our trajectory of becoming one of the truly premier colleges of engineering in the nation.

“As a college, we are poised to make tremendous research and education contributions to the economic competitiveness and quality of life of our state and nation,” he added. “I can think of no greater opportunity and I am very grateful and honored to have been selected for this position.”

Roberts has a strong record of scholarly and academic achievement in nanotechnology and synthetic fuels, and has published more than 110 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in leading chemical engineering, chemistry, materials and related journals. Roberts has been the principal investigator or significant co-principal investigator on more than $16 million in extramurally funded research contracts and grants at Auburn University that came from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Energy Technology Lab, industrial sponsors, and others.

“I have had the opportunity to watch Chris Roberts develop from a dynamic young faculty member who excelled in both instruction and research to a very efficient and effective department chair,” said Benefield. “He is brilliant, innovative and creative with incredible personal skills. He will bring these attributes to his new position as dean and without question will do an outstanding job.”

Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri and master’s degree and doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

(Article originally written by Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, Auburn University.)