Longtime Department Chair Tapped for Engineering Dean

Dr. Okoli

Okenwa Okoli, a 24-year veteran of FAMU-FSU Engineering and Florida State University, moves to the University of Memphis in 2023

Okenwa Okoli, professor and past chair of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, was recently named the new dean of the University of Memphis Herff College of Engineering in Memphis, Tennessee. He takes the helm in January 2023.

“It is always bittersweet to lose a faculty member, particularly of Okoli’s stature and seniority,” Suvranu De, dean of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, said. “But I am proud of his success and happy that he is moving on to leadership at a higher level. I am confident he will be superbly successful.”

Okoli joined FAMU-FSU Engineering in 1998 and served as department chair for almost 10 years. Under his leadership, the department underwent a complete overhaul of its graduate program and saw a significant increase in enrolled students. He also focused on decreasing the number of years to doctoral dissertation defense. Okoli led the department’s participation in outreach activities, striving to bridge the achievement gap noted in many of our minority populations, as well as increasing interest in STEM disciplines in K-12 pupils.

“I am proud of what we have done at FAMU-FSU Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering over the last 24+ years,” Okoli said. “We have grown to a department that is high in research productivity and unrivaled in student success! I am most thankful to colleagues and friends, I will miss you. I am excited to take up my role as dean of the Herff College of Engineering at the University of Memphis. I look forward to working with stakeholders to build and reach great heights through transformational research, teaching excellence, and research entrepreneurship, all in an environment focused on student success and highlights the strengths in our diversity.”

Changchun “Chad” Zeng was named IME Department chair when Okoli returned to the faculty in July 2022.

Okoli is the Associate Director of the High-Performance Materials Institute (HPMI) associated with the college and Florida State University. His research expertise centers in the areas of the manufacture of advanced and multiscale multifunctional (polymer and ceramic) composites. He received several recognitions for his work, including the R&D 100 award. Okoli holds 10 U.S. patent applications (awarded and pending) in the areas of advanced composites and multiscale composites manufacture, structural ceramics, ubiquitous real-time structural health monitoring and energy harvesting.