Tandon dean to step down next year

Jelena Kovačević, the dean of the Tandon School of Engineering, announced on Tuesday that she will step down from her role in the 2024 academic year.


Andy Lin

File photo: Jelena Kovačević (center) speaking during a Tandon town hall event held on April 5. (Andy Lin for WSN)

Bruna Horvath, Deputy News Editor

The dean of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Jelena Kovačević, will step down from her role in August of next year. After taking a sabbatical, she will return to the school as a faculty member.

“I can confidently say that thanks to all of our collective efforts and the tireless commitment, engineering has now been added firmly to the disciplines for which NYU is known, which is what I set out to do,” Kovačević wrote to WSN.

Kovačević, the school’s first female dean since its founding in 1854, announced her plan to step down in an email sent to Tandon students on Tuesday. In the email, she commended Tandon students for the school’s increase in prestige and international status.

Research funding at Tandon has increased by 441% over the last 10 years, and the number of applications rose from 17,000 to 29,000 between the fall 2018 and fall 2022 semesters. According to Kovačević, Tandon has also seen an increase in the number of first-year women applicants, who currently make up 46% of incoming classes. Additionally, during Kovačević’s five-year tenure, Tandon launched the Global Leaders and Scholars in STEM honors program, the Experiential Learning Center and a career hub.

Tandon has also experienced increased philanthropic support in recent years. In December 2022, university president Andrew Hamilton announced a long-term $1 billion investment in the school that would employ 40 new full-time, tenure-track faculty members and expand research facilities. Most recently, the school received a $15 million grant to fund transportation research initiatives for the next five years.

In March, Kovačević faced pushback from students after it was announced that the school’s graduates would not be allowed to walk at graduation due to time constraints. The school announced it would reverse the decision and start the ceremony 30 minutes earlier than initially planned after a petition with over 1,800 signatures, numerous emails from students and a town hall.

Before joining NYU in 2018, Kovačević was the head of Carnegie Mellon University’s electrical and computer engineering department, where she taught for 15 years. Kovačević said that she has missed teaching during her time as an administrator. 

“With the energy I have devoted to administrative leadership of the school, particularly during uniquely challenging times, I have not had time to dedicate to research and particularly teaching, which I miss very much,” Kovačević said.

Kovačević said that Hamilton and Interim Provost Georgina Dopico will soon offer information about the search process for her successor.

“Details on the search for the next dean will be forthcoming from the university, but in the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing what else we can accomplish over the next academic year,” Kovačević said. “Serving you as your dean has been the honor of my life, and I can’t wait for the next stage of my time at Tandon.”

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].