ECE department head steps down

Jennie Kushner

After six and a half years as department head for electrical and computer engineering, Jeff Jackson submitted his letter of resignation to the University Oct. 28.

He alerted his students in an e-mailed statement Tuesday.

After completing his doctoral work at the University in 1990, Jackson began his career as an ECE professor.

“I really wanted to get back to more teaching and wanted to spend more time pursuing my own research interests,” he said. “Administrative responsibilities don’t always allow you that luxury.”

Jackson told Dean Charles Karr his resignation as department head was effective immediately, but Jackson said he would help with the transition and operation of the department while a replacement was determined.

Despite stepping down as an administrator, Jackson plans to continue teaching at the University.

“I am not quitting the University; I am going to continue as a professor in the department,” he said. “I will still be teaching and doing research, and I look forward to serving the University in other roles as well.”

Jackson said the University, from UA President Robert Witt to Karr, has been completely supportive of the electrical and computer engineering department and he is extremely grateful for their efforts.

“I have really enjoyed the time and opportunities that the University has given me during my time as department head,” Jackson said.

“We have had a lot of growth in the department and college in terms of hiring new faculty,” he said. “We have significantly strengthened our research programs and seen a significant increase in undergraduate and graduate enrollment in the department, which is consistent with President Witt’s vision.

“We have been able to reap significant benefits from President Witt’s efforts as well as those of [Executive Vice President and Provost] Judy Bonner and Dean Karr,” he said. “I trust the department is well-positioned for even greater advances in the future.”

Jackson received his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1984 and his masters degree in electrical engineering in 1986, both at Auburn University; he did his Ph.D. work at the University.

Drew Taylor, a master’s candidate in computer engineering, said Jackson has had a tremendous impact on his academic career thus far, as Jackson was named department head around the time Taylor was a freshman.

“I got to know him when I was working on my Capstone Design project,” Taylor said. “Because of related research interests, he became my graduate advisor when I moved on toward my masters work.

“I have always appreciated him for his ability to teach and relate to students,” he said. “He has always been approachable and his door is always open to questions or concerns, not just regarding the department, but also concerning my academic career and future work.”

Taylor said he believes a caring nature like Jackson’s is hard to find.

“His influence continues to contribute to my future academic plans in a big way,” he said.  “He is an outstanding faculty member, and an equally outstanding person.”