Case Western Reserve University Presidents

David H. Auston: 1999-2001

David H. Auston

David H. Auston served as president of Case Western Reserve University from July 1, 1999 through April 2001. During his tenure, he established a number of organizations that will examine improvements in a variety of areas of campus life:

  • Auston formed the President's Commission on Undergraduate Education and Life in October 2000 in part to "articulate a philosophy of undergraduate education for the University, and present to the University a proposal consistent with that philosophy for bold action to construct a more vibrant intellectual, social and physical campus environment in which to nurture and educate a community of lifelong creators and seekers of knowledge with lasting ties to Case," according to the commission's charge. The commission released a white paper in March which suggests developing an "experiential" philosophy for undergraduate education. The commission continues to seek feedback from the University community on its white paper, with the goal of presenting a final report around the time classes resume in late August.
  • Auston created two new standing committees -- the President's Advisory Council on Women in the University, and the President's Advisory Council on Minorities in the University -- in February 2001. In creating the councils, Auston said he hoped they would "raise the awareness of issues of importance to women and minorities and ... further advance our goal of fostering a harmonious, diverse, and inclusive campus environment."

In fall 2000, Auston created a University Visibility Committee to strengthen recognition of Case as one of the nation's premier institutions. Bruce Loessin, senior vice president of University relations and development, and Richard Baznik, vice president for public affairs, are leading this committee, which is composed of deans, vice presidents, faculty, and staff from across campus. Case is seeking an external consulting firm to assist with this visibility effort.

Under Auston's leadership, Case also purchased the Mt. Sinai Medical Center property, a 14-acre property located about a third of a mile northwest of campus on East 105th Street, to help provide for long-term expansion of the University over the next few decades. Case currently occupies 155 acres in University Circle. Acquiring the Mt. Sinai property adds about 10 percent to the size of the University's campus.

Buildings on the site currently represent 870,000 square feet of space, including areas that are convertible to laboratory purposes. Case will retain and renovate part of the existing complex to accommodate biomedical research laboratories, core instrumentation and other equipment, ancillary support functions, and related incubator facilities. The plan also calls for locating additional institutional activities in other portions of the complex.

Auston also has led Case's efforts as one of three founding member institutions of the Cleveland Biotechnology Park ("BioPark"), which is envisioned as a technology park in or near Cleveland's University Circle that will promote the region's economy by bringing together researchers from the participating institutions with their counterparts from industry. The focus of BioPark will be technology development and commercialization, and the development of biomedical business opportunities for the region. At its first meeting in September, the BioPark Board of Trustees elected Auston to serve as chair of the corporation for the coming year.

At the state level, Auston has worked to build collaborations with Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati to focus on opportunities for economic growth originating from campus-based research results. The three institutions have formed the Ohio Coalition for Biomedical Leadership. The institutions want to strengthen their capacity, as Ohio's leading academic research centers, to compete for a larger share of federal support for biomedical research. The coalition also seeks to further commercialization of biomedical research.

An applied physicist and an electrical engineer, Auston is known as a leading expert in the area of lasers and their applications to electronics and materials science.

Auston came to Case from Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he had been provost and held the Herman Brown Professorship of Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

He began his career at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, where he was both a member of the scientific staff and a department head in the physics research division.

In 1987, he moved to Columbia University, where he began a rapid rise through the ranks of academic administration, beginning as a faculty member in the electrical engineering and applied physics departments, becoming chair of the electrical engineering department in 1989, and dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1991. Auston moved to Rice University in 1994.

He has published widely and holds eight patents in the field of lasers and their applications. His work has been recognized by national awards from the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Optical Society of America. In 1997 he received the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award from the University of California at Berkeley.

Auston earned the B.A.Sc. degree and the M.A.Sc. degree in 1962 and 1963, respectively, from the University of Toronto, and the Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1969 from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a native of Toronto and has been a naturalized U.S. citizen since 1987.

In addition to his institutional roles, Auston has held national leadership positions in organizations related to his scholarly interests. A member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, Auston has contributed to numerous initiatives to strengthen national programs in science and technology.

He has served on the National Research Council's Board on Physics and Astronomy, the Committee on Criteria for Federal Support of Research, and as chair of the Physics Panel of the Board of Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

David Auston is currently serving as President of the Kavli Foundation and the Kavli Operating Institute in Oxnard, California.

Learn more about President Auston.