WSU President Kirk Schulz and Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Dean Mary Rezac lead the university and the college, but with their training as chemical engineers, they also provide valuable input and unique contributions to the Voiland School.
While they are busy administrators, Schulz and Rezac remain active faculty members who understand the demands of research and teaching, have taught many chemical engineering courses, and continue to interact with students, says Jim Petersen, school director.
Before becoming administrators, both Rezac and Schulz taught virtually every undergraduate and graduate class in the chemical engineering curriculum.
Schulz holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech and received several teaching awards as a professor before he began his career in administration. He is as fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has conducted research in catalysis, surface science, and materials science, which are some of the strength areas in the Voiland School.
Schulz has long ties to WSU’s chemical engineering program. As an ABET program evaluator for many years, he evaluated WSU’s program in 2001 — an evaluation that led directly to the refurbishment of the school’s unit operations laboratory. As a faculty member, his last National Science Foundation grant provided support for the American Society for Engineering Education’s chemical engineering summer school — an event held in Pullman in 2007 and attended by faculty from across the nation.
Rezac holds chemical engineering degrees from Kansas State University and the University of Texas at Austin. Before starting her academic career, she worked in the petroleum industry for a company that annually supports the Voiland School and hires WSU students.
As a professor, she has directed more than 30 graduate students, received research and teaching awards, and co-authored more than 250 publications and presentations. Her research interests include molecular-level fundamentals of separation processes and integration of these processes into industrial scale processes. The work has applications in the energy, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals industries.
In the Voiland School, the administrators participate as active faculty members. Schulz serves as academic advisor for five undergraduate students, meeting with them on a regular basis, and on the graduate advisory committee for a PhD student working on the synthesis of nanoparticles for clean energy.
He is never too shy to tell students about his own struggles and that he, in fact, failed his first undergraduate class in fluid mechanics.
“These stories really encourage the students,” said Petersen. “He really shows them that you can persevere to achieve success.”
Rezac occasionally fills in to teach classes and recently received a standing ovation from the students after a lecture.
“These opportunities are unique and meaningful for the students,” said Petersen. “These individuals are in their positions because they are impassioned, engaged faculty.”