UW News

January 7, 2013

Judith Ramey appointed interim dean of UW College of Engineering

UW News

Judith Ramey, professor and former chair in the UW’s Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering, this month steps into the role of Frank & Julie Jungers Interim Dean of the University of Washington’s College of Engineering.

“I’m honored to have been chosen for this position,” Ramey said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to keep the college on course during the transition to a new dean.”

Ramey joined the UW in 1983 as a faculty member in what was then known as the Department of Technical of Communication, now Human Centered Design and Engineering. She led the department from 1997 until 2008.

“Dean Ramey has had a distinguished career and is a respected leader in the college,” said UW Provost Ana Mari Cauce. “I am grateful for her willingness to serve as dean during this transitional period and look forward to working with her until a new dean is in place. Having solid leadership during this time is critical to the continuing success of the college.”

The appointment is subject to approval by the Board of Regents.

Judith Ramey

Judith Ramey

Ramey earned a doctorate at the University of Texas in Austin and went on to become an expert in usability research and testing. In 1990 she founded the nation’s first academic usability testing lab, the UW’s Laboratory for Usability Testing and Evaluation, and served as its director for more than two decades. She is author of numerous research articles including influential papers on the emergence of usability testing, the use of participants’ thinking-aloud in usability testing and, most recently, on the design of better self-service systems.

During her tenure as chair the UW became internationally recognized in the emerging field of technical communication. Ramey led development of the department’s doctoral degree program and its professional master’s program, one of the first to be offered in the College of Engineering. She also helped design a new, interdisciplinary professional master’s in Human-Computer Interaction and Design set to launch in the fall. She is a fellow of the Society for Technical Communication and a member of the Association of Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction, and she has held adjunct appointments in the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering and the Information School.

A search committee is at work and a new dean is expected to begin in 2013.

Outgoing dean Matt O’Donnell, who arrived in 2006 from the University of Michigan, stepped down at the end of last year. He led the development of the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute and construction of the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Building that opened in 2012. During his tenure the college saw an all-time high in research grants and expanded its student body and faculty. About a third of the college’s current faculty members were hired in the past six years, and last year the college announced 11 high-profile faculty recruits in such areas as solar cells, synthetic biology and big data.

O’Donnell will spend this year traveling with his wife Cathy to visit research collaborators in Belgium, Taiwan and Pittsburgh. He is principal investigator for two grants from the National Institutes of Health and will return to his research in medical imaging in the Department of Bioengineering.