Liesl Folks to leave as School of Engineering and Applied Sciences dean

Folks to become provost at University of Arizona, Provost Charles Zukoski to begin decanal search for replacement


Liesl Folks, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is set to leave her position on July 26, according to an announcement from Provost Charles Zukoski on Wednesday.

The University of Arizona announced Wednesday it would make Folks the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost on July 29.

Folks officially became dean in spring 2013. Since, Folks has overseen the school’s growth by 75 faculty and 2,700 students, according to a UB press release. Folks also saw the start of two SEAS departments in her time as dean — the department of materials design and innovation and the department of engineering education. 

Folks is known for her leadership efforts in spearheading diversity initiatives at SEAS. Folks created Women in Science and Engineering (or WiSE), a program with the College of Arts and Sciences. She is also the principal investigator for UB’s NAVIGATE Project, a National Science Foundation-funded program made to increase women STEM graduates and “increase the skills of STEM women to navigate effectively past instances of bias, inequity or discrimination in the workforce,” according to UB’s website.

The amount of enrolled female students in SEAS under Folks’ tenure has increased from 760 to 1,444 from fall 2012 to fall 2018, according to UB Institutional Analysis.

Folks, in a message to SEAS, wrote the school community has “accomplished a great deal in a short time, and it would not have been possible without your support and dedication.”

“Thanks to our high-achieving faculty, we have increased our research expenditures by 35% and received a greatly increased number of awards for research impacts, energized by the large number of outstanding new hires we have made across the school,” Folks wrote.

“This is a testament to the truly outstanding scholarship taking place across SEAS. Thanks for all of your passion, your support and your great counsel! I leave our unfinished work in your trusted hands to propel SEAS onwards to ever greater impacts.”

Zukoski, in a message Wednesday, wrote Folks has been an “excellent dean” and helped advance “each of UB’s teaching, research and engagement missions, leaving the school well-poised to build on this success for years to come.”

“Liesl led SEAS in creating a strategic plan that aligns the school’s vision and goals with UB’s institutional priorities, promotes a culture of research excellence and impact, and advances educational excellence and innovation,” Zukoski wrote. 

Zukoski, in his message, emphasized Folks’ work which “enhanced alumni relations,” “improved school communications” and “increased women faculty and students and more than doubled number of underrepresented minority faculty and students.”

Zukoski, according to a UB press release, plans to appoint an interim dean in the “coming weeks” and start looking for a permanent replacement for Folks as SEAS dean. 

Benjamin Blanchet is the engagement editor and can be reached at and on Twitter @BenjaminUBSpec. 


Benjamin Blanchet is the senior engagement editor for The Spectrum. His words have been seen in The Buffalo News (Gusto) and The Sun newspapers of Western New York. Loves cryptoquip and double-doubles.