Houssam Toutanji, who has served as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Western Michigan University for the past four years, has been named dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Northridge.
Toutanji will assume his new post Aug. 20. CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is home to about 4,500 students and 66 full-time faculty members. The college graduates approximately 600 students annually with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fields such as civil engineering, computer science, computer information technology, electrical engineering, computer engineering, manufacturing systems engineering, mechanical engineering, materials engineering, software engineering and structural engineering.
CSUN Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Beth Walker welcomed Toutanji to the CSUN community.
“Dr. Toutanji’s experience as an educator and a researcher makes him a wonderful addition to our university and its academic leadership,” Walker said. “Those of us at the university, and particularly the College of Engineering and Computer Science, are happy to have him join us.”
Toutanji said he was looking forward to joining the CSUN campus community.
“CSUN is a world-class university where there are so many opportunities for students to succeed and for faculty to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “I’ve had an opportunity to talk to many of the faculty in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and I have been impressed with how passionate they are about what they do. They truly care about the students and the university. They truly care about making a positive difference.”
Toutanji has spent the past four years as dean of Western Michigan’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, where he led an effort to establish a strategic plan for the college and fostered a research culture while increasing research grants and philanthropy. He launched new academic programs and facilitated the development of partnerships with several community colleges and international institutions.
Toutanji said he plans to spend his first year as dean of CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science familiarizing himself with the college, the university and the college’s partners in the community. Among his goals are to increase opportunities for collaboration with industry and governmental agencies.
“The college does so many wonderful things, but I am not sure everybody knows about them,” Toutanji said. “I will be reaching out to members of industry and the community to find ways to collaborate on issues of great importance to them.”
Prior to his tenure at Western Michigan University, Toutanji held a number of positions at the University of Alabama in Huntsville from 1997 to 2015. He started out as a member of the faculty in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering before becoming the associate director of the University Transportation Center for Alabama, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and associate dean for research and graduate education.
Toutanji graduated from Northeastern University in Boston, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering. He earned his doctorate in civil engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass.
He is a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, one of the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. He also received the NSF-EPSCoR Scholarly Productivity Award two years in a row for research performance, intrinsic merit of research work and for potential in research. He received the University of Alabama in Huntsville Outstanding Teaching Award and Research and Creative Achievement Award.
Toutanji has authored or co-authored more than 200 publications in the areas of fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites, high-performance cementitious materials, repair and strengthening of structures and bridges, and recycled materials and lunar construction materials and design; has edited five major conference proceedings; and is the holder of one patent.