His appointment was announced today by UH System Chancellor and UH President Jay Gogue. Donald J. Foss, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs for UHS and senior vice president for academic affairs and provost for UH, has served as interim since July 2006.
Birx is expected to assume this position in September 2006. The appointment was approved by the UH System Board of Regents at its meeting this morning. Birx has most immediately been the interim vice provost/president for research and professor of physics at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces, N.M. since 2004, while simultaneously serving as president and founder of PSI, a new corporate entity at NMSU for technology development and incubation, since 2002. He joined NMSU in 1996 as director of the Physical Science Laboratory, a 500-person, university-based applied R&D organization.
“We are delighted to have Dr. Birx join the University of Houston System and the University of Houston,” Gogue said. “We are confident Dr. Birx will make a great addition to our system and university and are looking forward to the benefit of his guidance and leadership in continuing to foster UH’s outstanding research capabilities, as well as taking them to the next level.”
Birx brings with him a proven ability to craft and implement an organizational vision through development and integration of research, education, strategic alliances, mentoring and organizational transformation. He holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Dayton, an M.B.A. in finance and M.S. in biophysics from Miami University in Ohio, and a B.S. in engineering physics from the University of California, Berkeley.
“What impressed me the most was that everyone I met – across the spectrum of faculty, students, staff and administration – deeply believes in the potential of UH, understands its key role in the community and economic development, and is united in pursuing the vision that UH will be a leading research university,” Birx said. “The mix of capabilities, cutting across the arts, sciences, engineering, law, education, humanities, medicine and the library, is truly impressive and lends itself to significant, cross-disciplinary endeavors. While I saw some of this already underway, these efforts will hopefully further be encouraged through the formation of multidisciplinary research clusters that support individual researchers as well as centers and institutes.”
Prior to his time at NMSU, Birx spent 19 years at Systems Research Laboratories Inc. in Dayton, Ohio, starting out as a senior systems engineer and working his way up to vice president and team leader of technology and new ventures. He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, Sigma Xi and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. His committee memberships include the New Mexico Research Council and the Council of Research Centers of which he was chair. He was named a New Mexico “Top 25” Tech Leader (2002) and was the recipient of many awards while at NMSU, including the Davidson Memorial Award (2002), Distinguished Service Award (2001) and President’s Award for Vision (2000).
Growing up in Philadelphia, Birx enjoys skiing and biking. He and his wife, Linda, have three daughters and one son – Sierra, Donnie, Amy and Christy.
Birx was selected following a national search chaired by B. Montgomery Pettitt, the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and director of the Institute for Molecular Design at UH.
“There are many universities that aspire to be leading research institutions, but my sense is that UH has the sum of parts, the strategic location and the people committed to make it happen,” Birx said. “It is a distinct pleasure to join such a team.”