New dean named for ECU College of Engineering and Technology

June 2, 2017

By University Communication

A chemical engineer with more than 25 years in higher education has been selected as dean for the College of Engineering and Technology at East Carolina University.


Dr. Harry J. Ploehn, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of South Carolina and associate dean for faculty affairs and strategic initiatives in the College of Engineering and Computing, was approved by the ECU Board of Trustees during a special meeting June 2.


Provost Ron Mitchelson said Ploehn is a natural fit for ECU’s growing College of Engineering and Technology, which offers nine undergraduate and seven graduate degrees as well as five certificate programs and educates approximately 2,730 undergraduate and 350 graduate students. The college comprises four departments – computer science, construction management, engineering, and technology systems.


Harry Ploehn is an exciting addition to ECU’s leadership team,” said Mitchelson. “He will be heading up a key college that we are strategically prioritizing. Dr. Ploehn is not only an accomplished academic with numerous publications, grants and patents, he is also an award-winning teacher and an experienced administrator at a public flagship university. His demonstrated excellence and vision will be instrumental in setting the agenda for ECU’s continued growth.

Ploehn (Contributed photo)


Ploehn has been on faculty at USC since 1995 holding academic teaching positions along with serving as vice provost and director of academic planning for two years and interim dean of his college. A fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Ploehn received several teaching awards at USC, including one of its highest honors, the Michael J. Mungo Teaching Award in 1999. He also received the National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, 1992-97.


“This is the perfect opportunity for me, because my aspirations and priorities match up so well with those of the college’s faculty and staff as well as the university’s leadership team,” said Ploehn. “For me, it’s all about student success, academic excellence, and advancing research and scholarship for the benefit of our students, our community and corporate partners, and the people of North Carolina.”


His research focuses on, among other topics, nanotechnology, or the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular or supramolecular scale.


Ploehn holds four U.S. patents, has published 95 peer-reviewed journal articles and has received $9.8 million in 29 externally funded research grants, including 18 as the principal investigator.


David White and his team have done a remarkable job in leading the college to where it is today,” said Ploehn. “My challenge will be to rally the college around a vision of excellence and an action plan that will fully capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead for the college and ECU. 


“It will be hard to leave USC after 22 years of building a program and raising a family in Columbia. However, the wheels are already turning in my head about how we can move the college and ECU forward, and I’m really excited about getting started.”

Mitchelson added he wanted to thank Dr. David White for his six years as dean of CET and for serving as interim dean since March, when White was named dean of the Honors College.