University Announces New Drosdick Endowed Dean of the College of Engineering

Photo courtesy of Villanova University.

Provost Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD  and University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD announced on Thursday, March 26 that Michele Marcolongo, PhD, PE, has been named the Drosdick Endowed Dean of the College of Engineering, effective July 31. 

“On behalf of the entire Villanova community, I am delighted to have Dr. Marcolongo spearheading our College of Engineering,” Father Peter wrote. 

As the Drosdick Endowed Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Marcolongo will serve as the chief administrator of the College, providing leadership for the long-term plan of academic planning, faulty research and teaching innovation. She will also work to improve student experience and promote community within the College. Marcolongo will also head industry outreach, partnerships, financial oversight, alumni relations and fundraising.

Marcolongo enters the University with more than 30 years of experience in engineering. Through various careers, she has been an academician, researcher, administrator, inventor and entrepreneur. Even more impressively, she was chosen through a rigorous search, competing with applicants all around the nation. A committee of faculty, administrators, students and alumni were involved in the selection process.  

Her academic career remains as impressive as her professional work. Marcolongo has earned a broad range of degrees in the engineering field. At the University of Delaware, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Following that, she went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering at Drexel University. Finally, Marcolongo earned a Master of Science and doctorate degree in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 and 1995, respectively. 

Within her professional work, Dr. Marcolongo’s exposure to engineering and education began at Drexel University College of Engineering. There, she held numerous leadership positions and dedicated more than 20 years of her career to the school. Her positions at Drexel include serving as the Associate Vice Provost for Research, Senior Associate Vice Provost for Translational Research and Associate Dean for Intellectual Property Development. 

She also led a committee at Drexel in 2018, when she served as co-chair for Drexel University’s strategic plan. The focus of the plan was to produce an initiative for the following decade in order to excel innovative education. Currently, she holds the position of department head and professor of Materials Science and Engineering in Drexel’s College of Engineering. 

The newly appointed dean will also bring experience in her research. She dedicated her research to biomaterials and engineered biomedical solutions to treat disease. The impressive research earned Dr. Marcolongo the name of fellow for the National Academy of Inventors and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Education have funded her research and shown support for her extensive work. 

“Our search for a new Dean centered on finding an individual who champions innovative teaching and scholarship, appreciates the opportunities of engineering to positively impact society, and has extensive experience working with major research corporations and agencies,” Maggitti said.

Marcolongo has also focused on mentoring students through her research. During her time at Drexel University, she advised or mentored more than 200 graduate and undergraduate students. Through this mentorship, Dr. Marcolongo became an essential component of its undergraduate engineering program and developed her passion for research into the first-year curriculum. In 2003, her work with students and research earned her the Drexel College of Engineering’s Teacher Award.  

A very important aspect of Dr. Marcolongo’s time working with students was her advocacy for female participation within STEM. During her educational career, she encouraged inclusivity in engineering and repeatedly supported fellow female accomplishments of students and faculty. 

Statistics have shown that female leadership within engineering represents a very small portion of all positions available within the nation. As of January 2020, only 72 females hold positions as deans or directors of engineering programs. Therefore, Dr. Marcolongo will become another female addition to the current 18% of females represented in leadership roles for colleges of engineering. 

Aside from her educational background and research experience, Dr. Marcolongo has also been a successful entrepreneur. Her achievements include co-founding three biomedical technology startup companies and co-holding 15 patents and patent applications. With her success in entrepreneurship, she authored the book, Academic Entrepreneurship: How to Bring Your Scientific Product to a Commercial Discovery, in order to guide aspiring entrepreneurs through the process of taking academic research to a commercial market. 

Randy Weinstein, PhD has served as interim dean for the College of Engineering for the past two years. “Dr. Weinstein’s leadership was invaluable during that time, and his dedication to the students, faculty and staff is undeniable,” Father Peter wrote. “I am very appreciative for everything he has done for the College and University.”

“When things have settled and we are able to gather again, I hope you will join me and Provost Maggitti for a reception to congratulate Dr. Marcolongo and welcome her to the Villanova community,” Father Peter wrote.