Pohl Seeks to Transform Lives Through Education as GSIE Dean
As one of five children in a lower-middle class family growing up in a Boston suburb, Ed Pohl saw first-hand the transformative power of higher education. He and his siblings were the first in their family to earn a college education that changed the entire trajectory of their lives.
"My parents just stressed education, and education was the conduit to my success and my siblings' success," he said. "You can see the impact it's made on all our lives."
For Pohl, education opened doors to an illustrious military career in the Air Force, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and worked for the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, taught engineering at West Point and supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. It opened doors to a post-military career in academia at the U of A that began as an engineering professor before working his way up to the head of the Department of Industrial Engineering.
Now, Pohl will help open doors through education for graduate and international students as the new dean of the Graduate School and International Education.
Pohl was announced as dean of GSIE earlier this month after 19 years in the College of Engineering, with the last nine years spent leading the Department of Industrial Engineering. Prior to that, Pohl spent seven years as director of the Operations Management Program.
His passion for expanding and growing graduate programs led in part to his interest in the GSIE dean position.
"I have a soft spot for graduate programs. I see the value in them," he said. "I know they're important, especially today as technology and job skills are changing so fast. I think there's an opportunity for the Graduate School and International Education to help come up with some creative programming in conjunction with colleges and global campus to help support that lifelong learning component."
The international education component of GSIE also drew him to the position. He has led study abroad trips as a faculty member and chaired his department's Global Studies Program, in addition to two of his children studying abroad multiple times as students.
"International education is vital to our campus, not only in the diverse perspectives it brings, but as a key opportunity to grow our enrollment in the coming years," he said. "And I believe study abroad experiences - whether it's domestic students traveling abroad or international students traveling here — change lives. Students get to learn about new cultures and experience different parts of the world. You can see the students begin to think differently and gain confidence and maturity after these types of programs."
"This is a great community and great university," he added. "All of my kids are graduates from here, and my wife has a Ph.D. from the Department of Industrial Engineering, so we're invested in the university both at the undergraduate and graduate level."
As he prepares to step into the dean position June 1, Pohl seeks to continue to strengthen GSIE as a vital campus partner supporting colleges and units across campus to "facilitate what they need to continue to grow and meet the needs and support the chancellor's vision."
"GSIE is a service organization," he said, "so I want GSIE to be recognized as a provider of outstanding service to students, to faculty — to all the constituents and stakeholders."
Describing himself as a "servant leader," Pohl approaches leadership positions with an open ear and an eye for win-win opportunities, noting that usually the "decisions become obvious after you learn about the problems." With an engineering background spent analyzing and enhancing processes, he looks forward to transforming lives through education just as his life was.
"I am deeply honored to step into the position and am excited by the opportunity to help the university support its new strategic priorities in research and student success through graduate and international education opportunities," he said.
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