Patricia Culligan Appointed Dean of Notre Dame’s College of Engineering

Jan 21 2020 | By Holly Evarts | Photo Credit: Jeffrey Schifman

Patricia J. Culligan, chair and Carleton Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, has been appointed the Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins.

Internationally recognized for her expertise in water resources and environmental engineering, Culligan is a civil engineer whose research focuses on sustainable urban infrastructure, social networks, and the application of advanced measurement and sensing technologies to improve water, energy, and environmental management. She also is the founding associate director of Columbia’s Data Science Institute (DSI) and has served as the vice dean of academic affairs for Columbia Engineering.

A member of the Executive Committee of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, a world-renowned institute dedicated to advancing research, education, and solutions for sustainable development, and the co-Founder of the Collaboratory @Columbia, an enterprise jointly established by Columbia Entrepreneurship and the DSI to support the development of cross-cutting curricula for today’s data-rich world, Culligan is an advocate and innovator for interdisciplinary collaboration and thinking.     

“I am very excited to join Notre Dame at such a vibrant time in engineering, a time when engineers are tackling so many of the world’s greatest challenges,” said Culligan, who will begin her new post on August 1. “During my visits to the campus, I sensed the strong enthusiasm and momentum in Notre Dame’s engineering programs. The faculty has a distinguished reputation for engineering and scholarly excellence, and I am honored to be offered this opportunity to contribute to their continued success and growing stature.”

As dean, Culligan will lead Notre Dame’s College of Engineering’s nearly 160 faculty members, who oversee undergraduate and graduate education for nearly 1,900 students along with a wide array of research programs.

“Trish Culligan is a strategic thinker and leader, and is an inspiring choice as the new dean of engineering at Notre Dame. Trish has been a distinguished researcher, scholar, educator, and deeply valued colleague here at Columbia Engineering and across Columbia University for over 15 years,” said Dean Mary C. Boyce. “The interdisciplinary nature of her research and education forms the foundation of a wide and diverse range of research and teaching collaborations, including those with expertise in urban design, policy, microbiology, ecology, and geochemistry.  Her colleagues and I are excited to see her take on this leadership role and look forward to the impact she will have in this next chapter of her extraordinary career.”

Culligan currently co-directs a $12 million research network sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that is developing new models for urban infrastructure to make cities cleaner, healthier, and more enjoyable places to live. Through her research, she has developed several techniques to improve understanding of the fundamental mechanisms governing water and contaminant flows in soils and aquifer systems. She also is actively engaged in community outreach and citizen science programs.

A strong force for diversity at Columbia University, in her earlier role as Vice Dean and also as co-PI of Columbia’s NSF Advance program, Culligan helped to establish many Columbia Engineering efforts in faculty development and diversity. She currently serves on Women in Tech, a university-industry task force assembled and chaired by Dean Boyce to celebrate and support female engineers and applied scientists across the New York City global tech-hub, and to put in place strategies that enable women engineers to succeed at all levels, from pre-college to the C-suite.

“Trish is a distinguished scholar, research engineer, and respected academic leader,” Father Jenkins said. “She brings to Notre Dame a creative cross-disciplinary approach, demonstrated success and a commitment to seek ways in which technological innovation will truly serve humanity. She will be a wonderful addition to our senior leadership team and University community.” 

Culligan earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Leeds as well as a master’s degree in philosophy and a doctorate in engineering from the University of Cambridge. She also earned a diploma in language, literature, and civilization (with honors) from the Université d’Aix-Marseille III. She has served on the National Academies Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board as well as on the Board of Governors of the ASCE’s Geo-Institute. She has also chaired the National Academies Standing Committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering. She is the author of seven books, seven book chapters and over 160 journal articles, publications and reports.