Jonsson School Celebrates 30th Anniversary, Honors Dean Spong at Retro Awards Party

  • Dr. Mark W. Spong (second from the left) emceed the banquet, and Dr. D.T. Huynh (right), associate dean for administration and finance, oversaw the event and presented awards. They are here with their wives, Lila Spong and Tina Nguyen.

This year’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science Annual Appreciation and Awards Banquet could be described as tubular: With big hair, rad mustaches, parachute pants, and Madonna, Tina Turner and Blues Brothers lookalikes, staff and faculty members capped off the celebration of the school’s 30th anniversary ‘80s style.

The banquet was the last event in a series that started in the fall to mark the founding of the Jonsson School in 1986. The events also highlighted what the school has become today: one of the most rigorous and technologically advanced programs in the country, and an economic engine of growth and innovation for North Texas.

University leaders, including President Richard C. Benson, joined in the celebration. Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president, and Dr. Inga Musselman, interim provost, shared remarks about the school.

In addition to recognizing outstanding faculty and staff members, the event honored Dr. Mark W. Spong, who was surprised with a video showing the University’s appreciation for his nine years of service as the school’s dean. Spong announced earlier this year that he will be stepping down at the end of the academic year to return to regular faculty duties.

Spong, sporting a white suit inspired by Don Johnson’s character in the ‘80s TV show “Miami Vice,” shared why he chose to become the dean of the Jonsson School over other opportunities.

“I was struck by the positive attitude of the faculty,” he said. “Everyone was excited about the newly launched Tier One initiative and the very ambitious plans for growth. The decision to come to UTD was an easy one.”

Referencing Thomas Jefferson’s wish to be remembered most for founding the University of Virginia, Spong said: “I think Jefferson got it right. There is no higher calling and no higher purpose than to be able to educate the next generation of leaders, whether it is in engineering, business or the arts.

“For this reason, I am very much looking forward to returning to teach our excellent students, and I hope we will be together for a long time to come.”

Dr. Poras Balsara, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of electrical and computer engineering, also took the stage during the festivities. The longtime faculty member will serve as interim dean starting in September.

“Recognizing exceptional faculty members, students and staff, along with celebrating our founding and growth, is a great way to end the year and set the tone for the next 30 years,” Balsara said.

Jonsson School Award Winners

Outstanding ResearchAward Winners

Full Professor: Dr. Moon Kim, materials science and engineering and Arts and Technology; Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished ProfessorAssociate Professor: Dr. Kevin Hamlen, computer scienceAssistant Professor: Dr. Vibhav Gogate, computer science

Outstanding TeachingAward Winners

Dr. Chris Davis, senior lecturer, computer scienceDr. Kenneth O, professor, electrical engineering; Texas Instruments Distinguished University Chair Dr. Charles Shields, senior lecturer, computer scienceDr. Stephen Yurkovich, department head, Systems Engineering; Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Chair

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards

Mohammad Ali Shakeri Asadi, electrical and computer engineeringZiyu Chen, electrical and computer engineeringTakshak Desai, computer science  Ashkan Yousefpour, computer science

Outstanding Staff Awards

Zakiya Bryant, administrative assistant, materials science and engineeringDoug Hyde, degree plan evaluator, computer scienceBrenda Rains, degree plan evaluator, systems engineeringAndrea Turcatti, director student and community engagement, UTDesignElizabeth Woodlee, administrative assistant, mechanical engineering 

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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