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Professor Heather MacLean (CivMin) was recently appointed U of T Engineering’s first Vice-Dean, Strategic. (Photo submitted)

When Professor Heather MacLean (CivMin) first interviewed for a position at U of T Engineering in the early 2000s, she was impressed by the Faculty’s broad perspective.

“My research includes sustainability assessment and life-cycle assessment for energy and transportation technologies and the built environment,” she says. “These topics are highly interdisciplinary and were not widely taught or researched at the time.”

“Most of the other engineering schools where I interviewed were trying to make me fit into a more traditional role, but U of T Engineering saw value in cross-disciplinary research and integrating sustainability within the curriculum.”

Today, MacLean has a unique opportunity to further enhance this broad perspective. As the first Vice-Dean, Strategic at U of T Engineering, she will work with a team of senior leaders to set the tone and direction of the Faculty’s mission for the coming years.

“I’m someone who thrives on challenges, loves learning new things, enjoys collaboration, and aims to be forward-looking,” says MacLean. “I am passionate about further advancing U of T Engineering on the global stage and having a positive impact on students, faculty and staff.”

MacLean has previously served in key leadership positions in the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering, including Associate Chair, Graduate; Associate Chair, Research; and Acting Chair.

MacLean says her high-level goals include harmonizing the Faculty’s strategy with that of other branches of the University, furthering Institutional Strategic Initiatives, contributing to the new Academic Plan, and continuing implementation of equity, diversity and inclusion policies, especially within research.

She plans to start with a “listening and learning phase,” meeting with internal and external partners to understand their views on opportunities, challenges and priorities of strategic importance. New initiatives will be formulated based on urgency and feasibility, with an eye toward remaining agile to respond to changing circumstances.

MacLean says it’s too early for specifics, but that the strategic direction of the Faculty flows from its greatest asset: its people.

“Each member of our community plays an important role,” she says. “Ensuring that contributions are acknowledged and valued is the foundation required for any progress at the strategic level. I look forward to connecting with everyone, and to synthesizing their thoughts into a cohesive vision for U of T Engineering.”

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