College of Engineering appoints new dean

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JoAnn Browning is a people person. She’s good at bringing people together, which is exactly what she plans on doing as the new dean of UTSA’s College of Engineering.

“I just really love talking to people,” said Browning. “At first it’s scary, right — going to someone and saying, ‘Tell me what all your problems are.’ But if you approach it from the way of, ‘I’m not going to take this personally; I need to hear what your problems are so we can make you more successful,’ it’s actually very enjoyable.”

Browning’s charisma has served her well throughout her career, according to Provost John H. Frederick. “Dr. Browning has great experience as a researcher and an administrator, a strong commitment to student success and, most importantly, a track record of collaboration and consensus-building,” said Frederick.

Browning left her position as co-president with the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), where she was repeatedly recognized by her peers, to join UTSA’s ranks. Serving as the University of Kansas’ associate dean of administration and professor of civil engineering, she was twice awarded the university’s Miller Award for Distinguished and Professional Service. She was also the 2012 recipient of the Henry E. Gould award for Distinguished Service to Undergraduate Education.

Browning is the second female dean for UTSA.

“I think when female engineers — just young women in general, really — see other role models, it becomes something they can see themselves in,” said Browning.

“We’re all individuals. But there have been studies to show that women many times have a more difficult time believing in themselves, especially in the sciences. It’s easier to look at your flaws and say, ‘I didn’t do good enough,’ or ‘I’m not good enough to make it any futher.’ Then, when you see who has made it, are still able to balance other parts of their life and not give up who they are because they have made it? Then I think that can make a difference in their lives, and that’s what I’m hopeful for.”

For now, Browning states three goals: growth, increased focus on students’ success and expanding her colleges’s research and development. “I’m also looking at a new department perhaps. New programs for sure,” Browning said.

Browning is optimistic about her new life at UTSA.

“What I love about UTSA is that when I got here, it already felt like family. Everyone was very supportive and very sensitive to what my needs were. I really think it’s going to work out well,” Browning said.