Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.
Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.

Fotis Sotiropoulos appointed VCU provost and vice president for academic affairs

By Mike Porter
University Public Affairs

Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao, Ph.D., today announced the appointment of Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D., to the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Sotiropoulos’ appointment as VCU’s chief academic officer follows a national search and is effective Aug. 1. Sotiropoulos served as interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University until late March. During his six months as interim provost there, he led the academic affairs response to COVID-19 and served as part of the executive team leading Stony Brook’s strategic budget initiatives. He also restructured the provost office to add vice provost positions focused on curriculum innovation and diversity, equity and inclusion. Sotiropoulos will replace Gail Hackett, Ph.D., who last fall announced her retirement as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, effective on June 30.

Sotiropoulos has served as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook for the past five years, achieving significant growth in research, diversity and student success.

“The provost serves as the university’s second in command, and Fotis’ strength as an engaging, shared and collaborative academic leader is important to all of us. He is an accomplished scholar who has built strong and impactful teams. He has demonstrated excellence in student success initiatives as well as building a culture of inclusion, equity and innovation,” Rao said. “His established experience in strategic planning and implementation and advancing academic excellence will serve VCU well, including initiatives to develop innovative cross-cutting undergraduate and graduate degrees and cross-disciplinary experiential learning.” 

Sotiropoulos is recognized nationally and internationally for his research contributions in computational fluid dynamics with applications in wind and tidal energy systems, river hydromechanics, cardiovascular fluid dynamics and aquatic swimming. He has published more than 200 peer reviewed journal papers and book chapters and his research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy and private industry. In the past few years, he was named a State University of New York Distinguished Professor, received the Hunter Rouse Hydraulic Engineering Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers and was awarded the Borland Lecture in Hydraulics by the American Geophysical Union. 

A fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Sotiropoulos has twice won the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Gallery of Fluid Motion. He also is a recipient of a Career Award from the National Science Foundation.

“VCU’s institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion, student access and success, research excellence and regional transformation exemplifies all that I have pursued throughout my career as educator, researcher and administrator,” Sotiropoulos said. “This is a time for disruptive change in higher education. To advance bold educational paradigms that break disciplinary silos, build networks of knowledge, educate creative problem solvers and lifelong learners, and provide an inclusive environment where a diverse community of scholars and art makers can thrive.”

Sotiropoulos added that he is honored and thrilled to join Rao and the university community in working to realize the vision of the Together We Transform strategic plan.

Prior to joining Stony Brook University, Sotiropoulos was the James L. Record Professor of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering and director of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and director of the Eolos wind energy research consortium at the university. Prior to that, he was on the faculty of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with a joint appointment in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.

Sotiropoulos earned a diploma in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, a master’s in aerospace engineering from Penn State University and his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Cincinnati.  

Hackett has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at VCU since March 1, 2015.

“Under Gail’s leadership, the provost’s office over the past six years has made significant strides in student success, including our retention and graduation rates, need-based financial aid and student services, the quality of online courses and programs, and in hiring more diverse faculty,” Rao said.

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