Office of the Provost

Lester Gerhardt
Dean of Graduate Education, Acting

Lester A. Gerhardt received his bachelor’s from the City College of New York, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo, all in Electrical Engineering, and an honorary doctorate from DTU in Denmark. He is Professor of ECSE, and holds joint appointments in both Computer Science, and Information Technology. His research area is digital signal processing. He has also held several administrative positions as well. He has published extensively, holds 4 patents, and was awarded the Inventor of the Year Award in N.Y.S. He has served on the Boards of the NSF, the ASEE, and sits on privately held corporate boards. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and ASEE. His extensive international activities include serving as a U.S. Delegate to NATO and international consultant.

Prabhat Hajela
Dean, Undergraduate Education

Prabhat Hajela is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has a Bachelor of Technology in Aeronautical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, MS degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State, and in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford in July 1982. Before joining RPI, he worked as a research fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles for a year, and was on the faculty at the University of Florida for seven years. He has also spent brief periods of time conducting research at the NASA Langley Research Center, NASA Lewis Research Center, and the Eglin Air Force Armament Laboratory. In 2003, Hajela was a Legislative Fellow for Science and Technology Policy in the Office of US Senator Conrad Burns. His research has primarily focused on the development of computational methods for the analysis and optimal design of structural and multidisciplinary systems.

Robert A. Chernow
Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship

Rob Chernow has over thirty years of entrepreneurial and business related experience, both in the domestic and international arenas. Prior to coming to RPI, he was the Senior Vice President at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (the largest foundation in the world dedicating to fostering entrepreneurship), where he was responsible for directing all entrepreneurship programs, the founder of three companies (the most recent being Educational Services for Entrepreneurship, where he provided services to colleges and universities world wide); Senior Vice President at two major health care companies; President of one of the nation’s largest hospital systems, and a principle at a major consulting firm.

Rob has a B.A. from Colgate University; a Master’s in Health Care Administration from University of California, Berkeley; and did doctoral work at Yale in Epidemiology and Public Health.

Kenneth B. Durgans
Vice Provost, Institute Diversity

Throughout his more than 20 years’ tenure in higher education, Dr. Durgans has actively maintained his “hands-on” style of administration. His appointments have ranged from notable institutions as Xavier University, the University of Notre Dame, Baldwin-Wallace College, Wittenberg University, Olivet College and Northeastern Universities College of Medicine (NEOUCOM). Dr. Durgans received his doctorate degree in Education from Western Michigan University and subsequently completed the acclaimed Harvard University Management Development Program.

Academic Deans

Alan Balfour

Alan Balfour, Professor and Dean of the School of Architecture, earned a degree in architecture from the Edinburgh College of Art and a master of fine arts in architecture from Princeton University, which he attended as a Fulbright Scholar. Architect and author, he has just completed related series of books on Berlin, New York, and Shanghai. In 2000, he was the recipient of the Topaz Medallion, the AIA and ACSA highest honorin the field of architectural education.

John P. Harrington
Humanities and Social Sciences

John P. Harrington, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of cognitive science, was educated at Columbia University and University College, Dublin. He earned his Ph.D. in literature from Rutgers University. He has written extensively on Irish literature and culture and edited W.W. Norton's anthology Modern Irish Drama (1991) and, most recently, co-edited with the sociologist Elizabeth Mitchell a collection of interdisciplinary essays published as Politics and Performance in Contemporary Northern Ireland (1999).

Wei Zhao
School of Science

Information Technology

Wei Zhao, dean of the School of Science and professor of computer science, completed his undergraduate study in physics from the Shaanxi Normal University in 1977; and a master's degree in computer science in 1982 and a doctorate in computer science in 1986, both from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Previous to his appointment at Rensselaer, Zhao served as Senior Associate Vice President for Research at Texas A&M University, where he was also a professor of computer science. Zhao served as director of the Division of Computer and Network Systems at the National Science Foundation between 2005 and 2007.

David Gautschi

Lally School of Management and Technology

IDavid A. Gautschi, Dean of the Lally School of Management and Technology and professor of marketing and business economics, holds a PH.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.B.A. from the University of Oregon, and a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Maine. Prior to joining Rensselaer, he was a member of the faculty at Cornell University and INSEAD, a premier business school in Fontainebleau, France. Dr. Gautschi’s expertise is in decision support systems and enterprise management, international business, and global information technology and telecommunications.

Alan Cramb


Prior to joining Rensselaer, Alan W. Cramb was the Posco Professor of Iron and Steelmaking, Co-Director of the Center for Iron and Steelmaking Research and Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of over 160 publications and 2 patents and has received the following awards: the AISI Medal in 1985 and 1986, the Hunt Award in 1987, the Benjamin Richard Teare Award for excellence in engineering education in 1995, Fellow of the Iron and Steel Society in 2000, the John Elliott lecturer in 2002 and the Benjamin Fairless Award of AIME in 2003. He was President of the ISS in 2000, will be President of AIME in 2005 and is currently chair of the University Materials Council and a member of the board of ABET.

John Minasian
Vice President and Dean
Rensselaer at Hartford

Prior to his current position at Rensselaer, John Minasian was Dean of Extended Education at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, and a Ph.D. in systems and operations engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His research has made him an associate member in the Society of Sigma Xi, the nation’s leading honor society for the pure and applied sciences and he is a member of the ASME and ASIE. Dr. Minasian’s corporate experience in the information technology industry has spanned marketing, information services, consulting, and executive management. He has held leadership positions at several IT companies. He founded his own company, Five Star Inc., and served as CEO of Cirrus Computers Inc.

Robert Palazzo

The Provost is the Vice President for Academic Affairs of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The Acting Provost is responsible for the academic and, with the VP for Research, the research missions of the Institute including review and approval of academic programs and policies as delegated by the President, as well as the appointment, promotion, and development of a diverse faculty and staff in the academic divisions of RPI.

Palazzo currently has served as the director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, as professor of biology, and as a research scientist for the Wadsworth Center with the New York State Department of Health.