Engineering Leader Suku Nair named SMU Vice Provost for research and Chief Innovation Officer

Position is key to University’s commitment to achieving R1 research status

Suku Nair

DALLAS (SMU) – Suku Nair, a leader in computer science and engineering who has been teaching and researching at SMU for more than 30 years, has been named inaugural vice provost for research and chief innovation officer at the University. He assumes the position Dec. 1 after serving as associate provost for research ad interim since June.

“Dr. Nair took on his interim responsibilities with such focus and energy that it became clear to our search committee that we had in our sights the right person for this important position,” said SMU Provost Elizabeth G. Loboa. Committee members this week recommended that Nair be offered the VPR/CIO position full-time.

“The search process has highlighted SMU’s research and innovation goals, steps needed for advancement, and the structures needed to sustain and advance SMU in line with our aspirations and trajectory,” Loboa said. “We believe that Dr. Nair has demonstrated the vision to move SMU forward, expand research, innovation and entrepreneurship through partnerships within and outside SMU, and initiate a strong organizational structure and service culture for SMU’s Office of Research.”

Nair’s interim appointment followed the departure of James E. Quick, who in late spring completed his terms as associate vice president for research and inaugural dean of the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies. Robin Poston joined SMU in August, following Quick as dean of the Moody School. The restructuring of these positions is occurring in tandem with SMU’s evolution as a data-driven University focused on interdisciplinary research with commercial value to the North Texas region while also addressing global challenges. The appointments of Poston and Nair will help in refining and executing SMU’s strategy to achieve Carnegie Classification “R1” status, awarded to those Universities with the highest levels of research.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to support our faculty, students and research partners in such a meaningful way,” Nair said. “The VPR/CIO’s office will support and guide a thriving research ecosystem that is mindful of the needs and aspirations of the community.”

Nair is a University Distinguished Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department in the Lyle School of Engineering and founding director of the AT&T Center for Virtualization at SMU. He is also the founder of the cybersecurity program at SMU, which currently enjoys the NSA/DHS designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

He has published extensively in the area of high assurance computing and networking. His research has been supported through funds from National Science Foundation (NSF), National Security Agency (NSA), National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), Office of Naval Research (ONR), and various industries including Lockheed Martin, Alcatel, Raytheon, IBM, AT&T and Google.

Nair has been a consultant to various IT, telecom and cyber security companies. Some of his recent awards include the Dallas 500 award and CIO/CTO award for Outstanding Tech Advocate from D CEO magazine, the IBM faculty award and, at SMU, the Ford Research Fellowship and the Distinguished University Citizen award. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1988 and 1990, respectively.