Atul Kelkar has announced he is leaving his post as chair of Clemson University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering to accept a position as dean of the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science at Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Kelkar said he plans to remain at Clemson through the spring semester and into the summer and help to assure a smooth transition to new leadership in mechanical engineering. His start date at Binghamton is Aug. 1.
Kelkar said the decision to leave Clemson was bittersweet and that he will forever treasure the professional and personal friendships he has made.
“I loved my job, and my family loved this place,” Kelkar said. “But the opportunity to lead, make an impact and make a difference at another university such as Binghamton University doesn’t come that often and has to be embraced.”
Kelkar joined Clemson in 2018 as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the D.W. Reynolds Distinguished Professor. His leadership was crucial in shepherding the department through the challenges of COVID-19.
Kelkar also played a central role in bringing the Department of Mechanical Engineering under the same umbrella as the Department of Automotive Engineering to create the School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering.
With Kelkar at the helm, the department’s U.S. News ranking rose eight spots, and research expenditures increased 50%. New research clusters, seed funding initiatives, graduate certificates and industry-track Master of Science programs have helped strengthen and grow the graduate program.
Zoran Filipi, director of the School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, thanked Kelkar for his service.
“Atul’s visionary leadership played a central role in supporting faculty, creating a collegial atmosphere and helping mechanical engineering successfully navigate a transitional time,” Filipi said. “He will make a great dean, and I offer him my heartfelt congratulations.”
Kelkar said his greatest pleasure as department chair was to hire top-notch young faculty members and help them win national awards and recognition.
“The greatest satisfaction I have derived is in creating a collegial culture among faculty and staff and building an open and honest relations with them,” he said.
Kelkar said it was rewarding to work with the development office to secure new professorships, endowments, gifts and scholarships for the department and that he was fortunate to have a great Industry Advisory Board to provide advice and support on a wide range of issues.
Kelkar offered his gratitude for the opportunity to serve as chair, thanking Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, and Robert Jones, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.
“As I transition into the new role as a dean, I carry with me the valuable experiences and lessons learned during my tenure as chair,” Kelkar said. “I am confident that with the foundation that has been built over the last five years, together with the faculty’s contribution, mechanical engineering will continue to thrive under new leadership.”
Among those congratulating Kelkar on his new job was Jones. Gramopadhye also offered his congratulations.
“Atul’s leadership and dedication will make him a great dean,” Gramopadhye said. “He is well-positioned for continued success, and I wish him well in this exciting chapter of his career.”
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