In memoriam: C. Roland Haden
Posted September 10, 2013
C. Roland Haden, recognized as a national role model in advancing engineering education and the profession, passed away on August 24. As part of a long, distinguished academic career, Haden served in various positions at Arizona State University including dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences from 1978 until 1987 and from 1989 to 1991. He was the youngest dean of engineering in the U.S. at the time. He later served as vice president for academic affairs and provost at ASU.
As dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS, now the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering), Haden founded the Engineering Excellence Program. He convinced the governor, the state legislature, the ASU president and local engineering companies to invest in a program that would add research excellence to the already well-established CEAS teaching excellence. The program produced tangible results including building the Engineering Research Center, hiring numerous professors who had established research careers, and establishing several funded research centers. In addition, this program helped ASU become a Research 1 university.
Leading a transformation
Called a “visionary” and a “transformer,” Haden is revered among Fulton Engineering faculty who were here during his tenure and saw first-hand the significant contributions to the college.
“I came here because of what he started in the late 1970s,” says Constantine Balanis, Regents’ Professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. “I heard about the Engineering Excellence program, heard about the vision for high tech in Arizona. And it wasn’t just me.”
Haden significantly increased the size of the faculty, recruiting esteemed faculty that had an almost immediate impact on the stature of the college. Three early hires within the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering ultimately became Regents’ Professors at ASU: David Ferry, Constantine Balanis and Dieter Schroder.
“I was fortunate to have been part of that exciting time and the generation that transformed our college from a largely undergraduate teaching school to a graduate and research-oriented institution, which contributed to the rapid rise in our engineering rankings and Carnegie Research 1 status,” says Jami Shah, professor, School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy.
“Roland Haden was one of the few deans of engineering that understood how technology could work within the same college,” says Thomas Schildgen, professor, College of Technology and Innovation. “Every time I spoke with Roland you could not help but to be energized. He was a true visionary that valued his people.”
Balanis notes, “Haden knew to develop a high tech industry in Arizona, we needed an engineering school. He really pushed for research and attracted the people to make it happen.”
Shah notes that Haden created 10 research centers along themes important to Arizona industry.
An early version of ASU’s online engineering program also got its start under Haden’s leadership. Classes were broadcast via television to industry partners to provide continuing education and specialized training.
Building a coalition of support
Haden’s Dean’s Industrial Advisory Committee was made up of some of the biggest names in technology – Motorola, Intel, Honeywell, McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) – as well as prominent members of the banking community. They actively lobbied on behalf of the engineering school for new, state-of-the-art facilities.
“He was the main driving force behind the concept and construction of the Engineering Research Center and ASU Research Park,” says Subramaniam Rajan, professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “He very successfully transformed the college into one driven by state-of-the-art research projects with a national and international reputation.”
ASU’s engineering school, established in the 1950s, is relatively young among engineering colleges. Haden is largely credited for the genesis that would catapult the college into top rankings and rapid growth.
Balanis notes an analogy to other storied deans whose leadership catapulted their engineering schools prominence.
“Frederick Terman, dean at Stanford, recruited William Hewlett and David Packard and others that would be the beginning of the explosion in Silicon Valley. William Everitt transformed the University of Illinois. For ASU’s college of engineering, it was Haden,” he says.
By the 1980s, ASU’s engineering college was ranked in the top two up-and-coming engineering schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
A lifelong commitment to engineering education
Haden began his career as a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering department at Texas A&M University and the University of Oklahoma. He began his administrative career as the department head of electrical engineering at the University of Oklahoma before joining ASU. Haden then became vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at Louisiana State University. Haden retired in 2002 from the Texas A&M University system where he served as vice chancellor of engineering and dean of the Dwight Look College of Engineering.
Haden served on a number of corporate boards including E-Systems, Square D Company, Inter-Tel, Inc. and Crosstex Energy, MLP.
A Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), Haden served as a member and past chair of the General Electric Senior Research Award Committee, chair of the Public Policy Committee, and the executive committee of the Engineering Deans Council. In 1998, he was honored with the ASEE Donald E. Marlow Award.
Haden was a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
He was also a past chair of the Professional Engineers in Education division of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, the nation’s largest state professional engineering organization, and past chair of the Texas Deans of Engineering. He was named an inaugural member of the Texas Governor’s Science and Technology Council and served on the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.
Haden was the author of more than 100 articles, reports and presentations and authored or edited three books.
He received a B.S. magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Arlington, and M.S. from the California Institute of Technology and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, all in electrical engineering.