McGinnis Named Peter Kiewit Institute Executive Director
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken has named Dr. Michael L. McGinnis as executive director of the Peter Kiewit Institute of Information Science, Technology and Engineering. McGinnis is currently executive director of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center at Old Dominion University. Prior to leading the VMASC, he served as head of the Systems Engineering Department at the United States Military Academy at West Point. McGinnis is a graduate of West Point, and served in the military for 29 years, retiring with the rank of Brigadier General.

“Mike McGinnis is a proven leader with broad academic experience and a demonstrated record of success in growing research programs and partnerships with government and industry,” Milliken said. “He has guided several organizations through significant transformation and expansion, and is a highly effective team leader and program builder. These skills will serve him well as he leads the Peter Kiewit Institute into a new era of accomplishment which will have tremendous benefits for the State of Nebraska.”

PKI, which was founded in 1996, houses UNO’s College of Information Science and Technology and the Omaha-based programs of UNL’s College of Engineering. “PKI’s success has been extremely gratifying,” said Walter Scott Jr., chairman of the PKI Board of Policy Advisors. “We have a very good track record and an excellent road map to guide our future advancement. Under Mike’s leadership, I am confident we will build an internationally known institute that will contribute significantly to the state and region.”

McGinnis’s 29 years of military service concluded with his leadership for seven years of the Systems Engineering Department at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He served as director of the Army Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., director of the U.S. Army Unit Manning Task Force in Washington, DC, and director of the U.S. Military Academy Operations Research Center. He was a visiting research fellow at the Naval Postgraduate School and a visiting professor at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He has authored or co-authored more than 45 publications in refereed journals and technical proceedings in the fields of operations research, computer simulations, systems engineering, and engineering education.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, McGinnis holds master’s degrees in applied mathematics and operations research and statistics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College and a doctoral degree in systems and industrial engineering from the University of Arizona. He is a native of Wisner, Nebraska.

“I am deeply honored to be selected as PKI’s executive director,” McGinnis said. “My wife, Tracy, and I are excited to be joining the University of Nebraska team and moving to Omaha. In moving PKI forward, we will build upon the notable progress and past accomplishments of the outstanding faculty and students from the UNL College of Engineering and the UNO College of Information Sciences and Technology. Throughout the search process, I have been continually impressed at every stage by the professionalism and commitment of the Board of Policy Advisors, faculty from both colleges, and especially the vision, caring leadership and team focus of President Milliken.”

Milliken said the appointment of a director with exceptional scientific and research credentials is a key part of the University’s efforts to expand the Institute’s research programs and enhance its national reputation. Following a comprehensive review by the Washington Advisory Group, the University’s Board of Regents and the Institute’s Board of Policy Advisors adopted a revised charter that established a new position of executive director and chief science and technology officer who will be responsible to the president.

McGinnis will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of the plan for PKI’s next decade, which will draw heavily on the Washington Advisory Group’s report. Elements of the plan will likely include: increasing the Institute’s emphasis on research; identifying and strengthening areas of technical and educational focus; increasing the number of graduates, especially in information science and technology; expanding the financial base to attract star faculty; developing deeper strategic partnerships with organizations and corporations; and strengthening collaboration across disciplines and among colleges and campuses.

McGinnis was selected after a national search chaired by Executive Vice President and Provost Linda Pratt and assisted by the executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles.

McGinnis’s appointment is subject to approval by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents at its April 24 meeting. McGinnis is scheduled to assume the directorship on June 10, 2009.

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