College of Engineering Dean Rich Brown receives Presidential Endowed Chair

University of Utah College of Engineering Dean Rich Brown was installed as the inaugural chair-holder of the H.E Thomas Presidential Endowed Dean’s Chair on Oct. 27.

“I deeply appreciate the honor that my friend, Ed Thomas, has brought to me and to the College of Engineering by endowing the deanship,” Brown said. “Ed is an engineer at heart—a builder, an inventor, and a problem solver.”

Dean Rich Brown

A longtime supporter of the college, H.E. “Ed” Thomas is a self-made entrepreneur and perpetual “tinkerer” from humble beginnings. He built a successful construction company which led to a series of investments in commercial and industrial land development. In 2006, he created an endowed, need-based scholarship for students from his hometown of Springville, Utah. In an effort to honor the college’s past and present deans, and also provide help with recruitment of future deans, Thomas donated $4 million to establish the endowed deanship.

“His generous donation will help ensure the college’s financial vitality and enable it to take advantage of emerging opportunities as it continues to provide the workforce and ideas that drive Utah’s tech economy,” Brown added.

Brown has been dean at the college for nearly two decades. He earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Brigham Young University in 1976, before working in the industry—first at Holman Industries and then at Cardinal Industries. After completing a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University of Utah in 1985, Brown started his academic career at the University of Michigan as an assistant professor, teaching and pursuing research in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. He returned to Utah when he was appointed dean in 2004.

“With Dean Rich Brown at the helm, the College of Engineering’s exceptional education and research programs have expanded and grown to be among the most respected in the country,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for academic affairs. “This dean’s presidential chair is a well-deserved recognition of Dean Brown’s long tenure and transformative leadership at the college.”

Brown holds 21 patents and has written more than 225 peer-reviewed publications. He is a founder of i-SENS, which produces glucose sensors; Sensicore, which produces chemical sensors; Mobius Microsystems, which makes all-silicon clock generators; and e-SENS, a producer of water chemistry sensors. A fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, he was awarded the Utah Governor’s Medal for Excellence in Science and Technology, In 2018, he received the University of Utah’s Rosenblatt Prize.

Listen to an interview with Dean Brown on the U Rising podcast, click here.