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UA College of Engineering appoints two associate deans: Wiest named associate dean for research and economic development

Dr. Ken Fridley

Dr. Ken Fridley

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Dr. Charles L. Karr, dean of The University of Alabama College of Engineering, recently announced the hiring of two new associate deans.

Karr named Dr. Ken Fridley senior associate dean for administration and appointed Dr. Viola Acoff as associate dean for undergraduate and graduate programs. Dr. John Wiest, who has served as an associate dean in the college since 2005, was given the additional responsibility of economic development.

“These appointments give the college a chance to address needs that will help us accelerate our progress, strengthening our position as an engine for economic development and helping students meet tomorrow’s challenges,” Karr said.

As senior associate dean for administration, Fridley will have responsibility for College facilities, including space allocation. Further, he will be involved with strategic planning and operational matters.

Acoff will maintain overall responsibility for both undergraduate and graduate programs with responsibility for program accreditation, student code of conduct issues and graduate student recruitment.

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Dr. Viola Acoff

Fridley began working at the Capstone in 2003 as professor and head of the civil, construction and environmental engineering department. Under his leadership, the department experienced remarkable growth in both undergraduate and graduate enrollment as well as research activity. He was instrumental in leading the effort to establish the Capstone’s construction engineering program, and he recently worked to add bachelor of science degrees in architectural engineering and environmental engineering.

In addition to teaching and research, Fridley is involved in numerous professional activities and organizations. Since 1990, he has been a member of the American Society for Engineering Education. In 2008, he was named a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and he has held numerous leadership positions in the organization.

In 2008, Acoff was appointed head of the department of chemical and biological engineering. In 2009, she was also appointed head of the department of metallurgical and materials engineering, and served in the dual capacity for a year. As head of the metallurgical and material engineering department, Acoff has overseen growth and the dedication of a new foundry that encourages creative collaboration between engineering and art students.

Dr. John Wiest

Dr. John Wiest

She began at UA in 1994 as an assistant professor of metallurgical and materials engineering. She was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure in 2000, and she was promoted to professor in 2004. Acoff has been active in various areas of research related to welding, and she has been awarded more than $7 million in externally-funded research grants, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Wiest will continue to oversee the college’s research efforts, working with research funding agencies and assisting engineering faculty with research proposals and projects. His expanded role in economic development will allow him to engage business and industry in efforts that improve the college’s mission to educate the workforce of tomorrow, Karr said.

A professor in chemical and biological engineering, Wiest has served the College of Engineering for nearly 20 years. He has authored numerous publications and articles throughout his career, and he has been actively involved in a variety of professional organizations.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,800 students and more than 130 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.