Dr. Stephen Cheng Named Dean of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering


Akron, Ohio, July 16, 2007 Dr. Stephen Z.D. Cheng has been named dean of The University of Akron's world-renowned College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. He will be the college's second dean; the first, Dr. Frank N. Kelley, was dean from the college's inception in 1988 until his retirement last year.

Cheng is well known on the Akron campus, having joined UA in 1987 as assistant professor of polymer science. He was promoted to associate professor in 1991 and to full professor in 1995. He was named the Trustees Professor of Polymer Science in 1998 and the Robert C. Musson Professor of Polymer Science in 2001.

"Dr. Cheng's work is admired around the world," says Dr. Elizabeth Stroble, senior vice president, provost and chief operating officer. "He is a gifted researcher and a talented teacher. He understands the polymer industry and what the industry seeks from our graduates. He is an excellent choice to build upon the significant accomplishments of Dr. Kelley, and I look forward to working with him as this college and this university lead next-generation work in polymer science and polymer engineering."

Notes Dr. George Haritos, dean of the College of Engineering and chair of the search committee, "We had more than 60 applicants for the position; applications came in from around the world. A large number of the applicants were exceptionally well qualified, but Dr. Cheng stood out. He is an accomplished scientist, a natural collaborator and an able leader who has a well-defined and achievable vision for the college. He will serve students well."

Cheng earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from East China Normal University, a master's in polymer engineering from Donghua University in Shanghai and a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

A prolific researcher, Cheng has written more than 300 journal articles and drawn more than $18 million in research funding, often from highly competitive sources. His research focuses on polymers, liquid crystals, surfactants and micelles.

Cheng has received a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation and the White House, a John H. Dillon Medal from the Division of Polymer Physics of the American Physical Society, a Cooperative Research Award from the Division of Polymer Materials Science and Engineering of the American Chemical Society and a TA-Instrument Award from the International Confederation for Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry.

He has been named a society fellow by the American Physical Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Cheng is senior editor of Polymer and is on the editorial or advisory boards of nine other international journals.

Last summer, The University of Akron celebrated the 50th anniversary of the awarding of its first doctoral degree in polymer chemistry. The celebration was the first of several events that saluted the many contributions that Frank Kelley made to the university and the polymer industry.

Cheng's appointment is pending approval of The University of Akron Board of Trustees at its next meeting Aug. 1.