HOBOKEN, NJ – Stevens Institute of Technology has named Dr. Kelland Thomas the dean of the College of Arts and Letters (CAL), effective June 1, 2016.
Thomas currently serves as associate director of the University of Arizona's School of Information and director of the university's Creative Computing Lab. From 2014-2015, he also served as interim director of the university's School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts (SISTA).
Since the university’s founding in 1870, arts and humanities education has played a central role in Stevens’ mission in educating future engineers, technologists, entrepreneurs and scientists in a manner that enables them to become literate, articulate, creative and ethically responsible. Established in 2007 by the Stevens Board of Trustees, the College of Arts & Letters is devoted to humanities and liberal arts education and research as seen through the lens of science and technology.
“CAL is already an exceptional place where the arts, humanities and social sciences are infused with technological thinking and doing, and I look forward to advancing that vision,” Thomas said of his decision to join Stevens. “At CAL, I see a tremendous opportunity to increase the reputation and identity of the school as a place where exciting research and teaching happens, one that prepares graduates to become critical thinkers and scholars, but with the extra dimension of understanding computing, technology, information science and how all of those things inform and affect our society.”
“I am delighted that Dr. Kelland Thomas is joining Stevens as dean of the College of Arts and Letters. His appointment begins a new chapter in the evolution of humanities, arts and social sciences education and research at Stevens. I am confident that, under his leadership, the College of Arts and Letters will distinguish itself as a premier college that creates new knowledge at the intersection of the humanities and technology, and one that educates the leaders of tomorrow who are able to seamlessly integrate the humanistic and technical domains,” said Stevens President Nariman Farvardin.
“The exciting growth trend in higher education is thinking about how technology, computing and the liberal arts work together and influence each other,” added George Korfiatis, provost and university vice president of Stevens. “Dr. Kelland Thomas’ background and experience as an accomplished musician, artist, researcher, educator and academic administrator make him perfectly suited to bring to bear this focus as dean.”
Thomas is co-investigator on a $2.3 million research award from DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to facilitate the interactive creation of jazz music by musicians and computers working together. In collaboration with investigators from the University of Illinois and Oberlin College, Thomas and his colleagues will build MUSICA (MUSical Improvising Collaborative Agent), a new software platform and device — possibly a robot — that will attempt to understand and improve the ways in which computers communicate with humans and create.
Thomas is also co-investigator in a research award to create a geographically accurate Virtual Harlem, a three-dimensional virtual reality environment useful for simulation, modeling, urban planning and game design, among other purposes.
Thomas holds a doctoral degree in saxophone performance and a master's degree in music theory from the University of Michigan, as well as a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Arizona. He also previously served as a professor and career development program coordinator in the University of Arizona's School of Music and as a professor at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario.
Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for more than 145 years. Within the university’s three schools and one college, more than 6,800 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with more than 380 faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment to advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront global challenges. Stevens is home to three national research centers of excellence, as well as joint research programs focused on critical industries such as healthcare, energy, finance, defense, maritime security, STEM education and coastal sustainability. Stevens is in the midst of a 10-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create., designed to further extend the Stevens legacy to create a forward-looking and far-reaching institution with global impact.