June ushers in a new era as SIE promotes Ricardo Valerdi to interim department head. Valerdi, a Distinguished Outreach Professor at the University of Arizona, has been an integral part of the SIE team since he joined as an associate professor in 2011. During his time as a Wildcat, he has worn many hats, including faculty athletic representative for the Pac-12 Conference/NCAA, chair of the University Ombuds Committee, and fellow for the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. Before coming to the UA, Valerdi spent six years with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Outside of higher education, he has worked to bring STEM programs to children through sports with the nonprofit organization he founded, Science of Sport. When asked about his goals for SIE, Valerdi shared “I hope to continue the tradition that Son has established, and Larry Head before him. We have a history of strong department heads that I am looking to continue.”
With this new chapter, SIE must also say goodbye to its beloved leader Young-Jun Son, as he begins a new role as James J. Solberg Head and Professor at Purdue University’s School of Industrial Engineering. Son became department head in 2014, a position in which he worked hard to diversify SIE with the help of SIE faculty. In 2014 there were no female faculty, but upon his departure roughly 20% of SIE faculty are women. Son is most proud of the family environment he helped cultivate and of the department’s increased U.S. News and World Report ranking.