Leonard A. Ferrari, vice provost for special initiatives, American Electric Power Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and one of Virginia Tech's leaders in information technology, will leave the university at the end of May to become associate provost and dean of research at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.
"Leonard's contributions to Virginia Tech are inestimable since we will continue to reap the benefits of his tenure here long after he is gone. We will miss his creative mind but wish him well as he embarks on this new endeavor. We look forward to future collaborations with him," said Mark McNamee, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Ferrari, who has been recognized for his creativity, drive, and leadership, is noted for developing ideas for new projects and then building and working with teams to make them happen.
"I've had a great time here because the Virginia Tech administration has allowed me to propose and develop many new research and education programs. I prefer working at the beginning of a project, when there isn't a clear picture and we have to sort through it," said Ferrari, who is also acting director of the International Institute for Information Technology (IIIT).
Ferrari joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1995 as head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). During his five years in that position, the department increased enrollments by nearly 50 percent, added master's and doctorate degrees in computer engineering, tripled its research expenditures to more than $21 million a year, established an NSF Engineering Research Center in Power Electronics, and added 15 new faculty members. He also initiated the Women's Opportunity Program in Computing at Virginia Tech, convincing IBM to donate computers for an annual summer program in computer usage for female high school juniors, and under his direction, the department helped create a computer lab for second-grade girls at Margaret Beeks Elementary School. Under his leadership, the department moved into the ranks of the top 20 such departments in the country.
In 2001, Ferrari was named to the newly created position of vice provost for special initiatives, and the following year, he led the formation of the IIIT, which is responsible for coordinating and facilitating the growth of Virginia Tech's IT research and education programs, principally in Northern Virginia.
In addition to the IIIT, his initiatives have included VTKnowledgeworks, an incubator/accelerator program at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center; the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium, a partnership among universities, industry, and the state aimed at making Virginia a national leader in microelectronics education and research; the Alexandria Research Institute, a multidisciplinary research and education organization; the School of Biomedical Engineering; and the Master of Information Technology (MIT) program.
As director of IIIT, Ferrari helped establish the University Center for Geospatial Information Technology and the Institute for Social Analysis of Technology, added six new faculty positions to IT departments, and facilitated and encouraged the submission of more than $10 million in grant applications by IIIT affiliates. Internationally, he leveraged the MIT degree to expand the university's international programs into France, India, and the Middle East through active collaborations with the university's Office of International Research, Education, and Development and the Pamplin College of Business.
During the past year, Ferrari was named by Gov. Mark Warner as special assistant to Virginia's secretary of technology, where he led the effort to create the Institute for Defense and Homeland Security (IDHS), a 14-university consortium formed under the direction of the Virginia Research and Technology Advisory Council with strong support from the governor, the Center for Innovative Technology, and the Virginia Congressional delegation. He has indicated that he will continue to work closely with colleagues at Virginia Tech and across the commonwealth to help establish the IDHS as a major research and education university/government/industry partnership.
Ferrari holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Irvine, a master's degree from Northeastern University, and a bachelor's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in electrical and computer engineering.