Dr. Zorica Pantić, Past President
President, Wentworth Institute of Technology (2005 – 2019)
Dr. Zorica Pantić, who served as the fourth president of Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston from 2005 – 2019, is the first woman engineer to lead an institute of technology in the U.S. As a strategic and collaborative higher-education leader, she transformed Wentworth from a small baccalaureate college into a medium size master’s degree-granting university recognized regionally and nationally for the high quality academic programs.
- Under her leadership and through the shared governance, the faculty improved the existing academic programs and developed and implemented 10 new undergraduate and 7 graduate programs turning Wentworth into a leader in engineering, design, management and science education. The strategic improvements in the scope, quality and visibility of the academic programs, led to excellent regional and national rankings and recognitions. The Wall Street Journal ranked Wentworth among the top 500 schools in the U.S.; undergraduate engineering programs were ranked among the top 15% by U.S. News & World Report in 2019; the College Factual ranked construction management #1 and architecture #4 in the U.S. Wentworth was also inducted into the Massachusetts Building Congress Hall of Fame in 2017 for producing generations of leaders in the design and construction industry.
- Strong emphasis on student access and success led to the enrollment increase from 3,500 to 4,500 students (3,000 FTE students to 4,000 FTES). The Center of Academic Excellence established various support programs that helped increase the first-to-second year retention rate from 78% to 86%; and the 6-year graduation rate from 46% to 67%. The high-quality academic preparation and Wentworth’s hallmark co-op program resulted in the 6-month placement rate (between jobs and graduate school) of 99% in 2019 and the starting salaries among the top 10 in the New England region. Wentworth’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship program also contributed to the student access and success and one of the start-up companies was selected as Forbes’ top 30-under-30.
- Working closely with the Board and the leadership team, Dr. Pantić established a 5-year rolling financial plan and regular budgetary oversight resulting in consistently strong operating cash flow. During her tenure, the operating budget increased from $63 million to $132-million and the endowment doubled to $114 million ensuring strong financial sustainability; with strong affinity for fundraising, she and her development team secured $85M in various cash gifts and philanthropic commitments. From the Moody’s Investment Services report: “The university's ability to launch programs in response to the job market demands and recent expansion of development staff, bringing in people with experience in fundraising reflects its proactive management of key revenue streams.” The Commonwealth Institute selected Wentworth as the 2018 Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts.
- As a champion for diversity, Dr. Pantić supported development of programs such as biomedical engineering and applied sciences that have high female participation and helped increased the overall female student population from 18% to 23%. Through active outreach and strong supporting programs, she increased the minority student participation from 14% to 23%. In partnership with two UMass universities and 4 community colleges, Dr. Pantić helped secure a $950,000- NSF Louis Stokes Minority Participation Grant with 2 additional renewals.
- To serve the 4 newly formed colleges and the burgeoning student population, the number of full-time faculty and staff was increased from 350 to 550. The university hired excellent faculty, increasing the female participation from 25% to 35% and resulting in many external grants such as a $500k-NSF grant to increase engineering students’ retention rate; $200k NSF grant for lab improvement and a first NIH research grant in the amount of $350k.
- Under Dr. Pantić’s leadership the campus was significantly improved by investing $300-million in state-of-the-art facilities, including two residence halls and the 75,000-square-foot, $55-million Center for Engineering, Innovation and Sciences. She worked closely with the neighboring communities to secure approvals for the a 10-year Institutional Master Plan, a PDA and other various capital projects.
- She established excellent state/town/gown relationships. She serves on the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, the Governor’s STEM Advisory Committee and served on the Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board. She also co-chaired -- with the Boston University President -- the Boston PILOT (Pay-in-Lieu-of Taxes) Committee. She participated in the Governor’s economic mission to Israel with emphasis on cyber security and digital healthcare and in the Congressman Lynch economic mission to Germany. She also chaired a panel that analyzed the causes of the 2010 MWRA water main break and testified at a State house hearing about the analysis’ conclusions as well as publicly. Based on the panel findings, MWRA reached a $3.1-million settlement against the responsible companies.
- Dr. Pantić received many awards and recognitions including:
- 2019 Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award
- 2018 The Commonwealth Institute – Massachusetts top 100 women led businesses (#50)
- 2017 Inducted in the National Academy for Construction
- 2017 TECET Person of the Year Award – The Engineering Center Education Trust
- 2016 CASE District I Excellence Awards – Council for Advancement & Support of Education
- 2014 CMMA New England chapter Person of the Year – Construction Management Association of America
- 2007 Leading Women Girl Scouts Patriots’ Trail
- 2006 Women of Excellence Award by the Boston National Association of Women Business Owners
Founding Dean of the College of Engineering University of Texas at San Antonio, 2001 - 2005
- Spearheaded College efforts toward achieving doctoral/research status for UTSA by developing and implementing 3 doctoral programs: Electrical Engineering; Biomedical Engineering (jointly with the UT Health Science Center), and Environmental Science and Engineering (jointly with the College of Sciences), with the enrollment that grew to 50 doctoral students over a 3-year period. Also established an Master’s of Science in Computer Engineering program.
- Hired 25 highly qualified and diverse faculty members. Established new faculty orientation, mentoring programs, and research workshops. Increased research funding 10-fold to $7 million in active grants. Many of the faculty received prestigious awards such as the NSF Young Investigator Award.
- Expanded the undergraduate engineering programs in quality, size and visibility, which resulted in a ranking by US News & World Report among the top 50 programs in non-doctoral institutions.
- Implemented new recruitment and retention programs that resulted in 75% undergraduate enrollment increase (83% increase in female student population). The graduate student credit hours increased by 70%. Secured a $200,000-block grant from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) for engineering student scholarships. Worked with San Antonio College on securing a $700,000-NSF grant to recruit more underprivileged students into engineering.
- As the founding dean, worked with the faculty and Department Chairs on establishing departmental structures and budgets, college by-laws and committees, and research and merit policies. Worked efficiently with the university administration to increase the College budget from $3.8 million in FY 2001-2002 to $6.2 million in FY 2004-2005 (exclusive of grants and endowments) with the total budget approximately $12 million.
- Developed successful relationships with an array of industry partners ranging from national companies to small businesses and research centers. With the UT Health Science Center (UTHSC) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) received a joint NSF grant for Interne2. Secured a 5-inch MEMS production-line equipment donation from Sony, Inc., valued at $2 million. Secured nano-equipment donation from Zyvex company worth $250,000. Served on the Toyota Education Committee to bring Toyota to San Antonio and received a Toyota NACHI production line robot valued at $75,000. Served as the primary investigator on a $970,000 AFOSR grant to establish a UTSA Material Science and Engineering Laboratory at Kelly USA (former Kelly AFB) and conduct related research and educational programs.
- Served on the Technology Council of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and was recognized as the 2003 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by the San Antonio Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
- As a member of the Executive Committee of the Texas Engineering and Technology Consortium, worked with fellow Texas deans and industry representatives to secure $3 million in federal funding and $3 million in matching state funding to help increase the number of engineering graduates in the state.
Director of the School of Engineering, San Francisco State University, 1997 - 2001
- Through strong and effective leadership, improved the engineering programs in quality, size (10% enrollment growth) and visibility, resulting in the programs being ranked among the top 50 undergraduate programs by US News & World Report for the first time in SFSU history. Initiated a new undergraduate program in Computer Engineering.
- Institutionalized MESA Engineering Program (MEP), formerly the Minority Engineering Program and in collaboration with the Math and Computer Science departments chairs secured a $220,000 NSF Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarships (CSEMS) grant to support disadvantaged students. Worked with Caltrans (CA Transportation) to bring the Summer Institute program for high school students to the SFSU campus.
- Established a Center for Applied Electromagnetics with diverse research ranging from analysis and design of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) & electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), to calculation of optical properties of biological macromolecules such as proteins and DNA (in collaboration with a faculty from the biochemistry department). Received research grants from leading high-tech corporations such as Lockheed Martin and Pacific Gas & Electric, and federal agencies such as the National Security Agency and $120k National Science Foundation for lab improvement.
- Played a crucial role in shaping and implementing the $480,000 SFSU-Cañada “Pathways” partnership through which San Francisco State offers upper-division engineering courses on the campus of a regional community college. This project served as a blueprint for cooperation between the 23-campus California State University (CSU) system, of which San Francisco State is member, and California’s community colleges.
- Worked with the CSU engineering deans on the California Workforce Initiative to increase funding for strategic disciplines: agriculture, biotechnology, computer science, engineering, and nursing. This initiative resulted in the Strategic Workforce Program that provided $10 million to the California State Universities in the academic year 2000/2001; SFSU’s share was $332,000.
Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 1984 - 1989
- Supervised MS and PhD students in application of the finite element method (FEM) to different electromagnetics problems. Developed sophisticated FEM software packages and re-wrote FEM codes for parallel computing on supercomputers such as Cray.
Assistant/Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Niš, Serbia, 1975 - 1987
- Developed a successful educational and research program in the area of applied electromagnetics with emphasis on antenna design and microwave circuit design.
- Harvard Institute for New Presidents (2005) & Experienced Presidents (2010)
- B.S., M.S., & Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, University of Niš, Serbia
- Best Graduate (ranked #1) of the University of Niš, Serbia