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Professional Education Names New Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Stephen M. Ruffin, Ph.D., selected for the position

Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) has named Stephen M. Ruffin, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Programs in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech, its new associate dean for academic affairs.  

Ruffin earned a bachelor's in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University, a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University. He is a specialist in high temperature gas dynamics, compressible flow aerodynamics, and airframe propulsion integration, and is the director of NASA's Georgia Space Grant Consortium (GSGC) and a former two-term national chair of the Council of Space Grant Directors. He leads the operations of the GSGC which conducts student research and design team activities, internships, scholarships, fellowships, K-12 student hands-on activities and camps, K-12 teacher training programs, and public outreach activities at museums, science centers, and in the community. In his national chair role, he helps coordinate activities of space grant consortia from all states and helps set the direction for national STEM outreach efforts.

“GTPE continues to evolve and grow in our mission to provide meaningful educational opportunities throughout one's lifetime,” said Nelson Baker, dean of Professional Education. “Stephen’s experience leading efforts with graduate and undergraduate students as well as his efforts with the mentorship of underrepresented groups were a perfect alignment with this work.  I’m thrilled to have such expertise joining our team.”  

As the global campus and lifetime education arm of the Georgia Institute of Technology, GTPE offers professional development courses and bootcamps, professional and graduate certificate programs, and online degree programs in tech, business, and industry-specific subject matter to meet the needs of working professionals and industry partners.  

In his new position, Ruffin will serve as a thought leader and advocate for new and existing degrees, certificates, and other credential pathways and professional development programs for lifetime learning. He will play a large role in working with industry and government to customize programs tailored to their business and workforce development needs across the lifetime learning spectrum, while also maintaining curricular oversight and management of all new and existing GTPE academic programs.  

Ruffin will maintain a joint appointment in the School of Aerospace Engineering where he will remain as faculty and continue his leadership as the director of the Georgia Space Grant Consortium. He will begin a phased transition to GTPE immediately, with an expectation to be fully in place at the start of the Fall semester.   

“I’m pleased to join the capable team of professionals in GTPE as we work to support Georgia Tech efforts to amplify our global impact and increase access to a diverse body of learners,” said Ruffin. “It is an exciting time to help lead in these areas critical to meeting the strategic goals of the Institute.” 

A committee chaired by Stephen Harmon, Interim Executive Director at the Center for 21st Century Universities, consisting of faculty and leadership positions across Georgia Tech led the search. Committee members included Amy Corn, Academic Program Director of Financial Technology at GTPE, Lizanne DeStefano, Executive Director of CEISMC, Shatakshee Dhongde, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, Larry Jacobs, Senior Vice Provost for Education and Learning, Aisha M. Johnson, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Outreach, Georgia Tech Library, Joel Sokol, Professor at H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Trent Thurman, Associate Dean, Executive Education Programs at Scheller College of Business. 

"Thank you to each of those that served on the search committee,” said Baker.  “I appreciated their valuable input and leadership throughout the selection process and look forward to our continued engagement in support of the mission of lifetime learning.” 

In addition to professional academic offerings, GTPE administers K-12 outreach, and English as a Second Language programs, and also frequently serves as the interface between Georgia Tech’s professional education activities and the industries, corporations, government agencies, and professional societies that benefit from them. GTPE also manages meeting and event facilities and is located at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center in Atlanta and at Georgia Tech-Savannah.