March 4, 2016
Gerard Voland, a former provost and current engineering professor at UM-Flint, died Feb. 2.
Voland joined the UM-Flint community in July 2010 as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. He served the university in these roles until January 2015, when he returned to faculty as a professor of engineering. He taught in the Department of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics until the time of his death. He had a successful, four-decade career in higher education, both in teaching and administration.
"Dr. Voland was a highly ethical person and had great respect for all people, especially faculty, staff, and students," said Vahid Lotfi, senior vice provost for academic affairs and dean of graduate programs at UM-Flint. "As an administrator, he had a deep commitment to building consensus and faculty governance. He always tried to ensure everyone was comfortable with whatever decision was being made. As an educator, he strongly believed in promoting student success, especially for the underserved students."
Voland appointed the task force that led to the creation of the Student Success Center, Lotfi said. He was also key to the creation of the Neff Center, a partnership between the Beecher Community Schools and UM-Flint designed to enrich both the university and the community through place-based education, research and student services.
"Dr. Voland was dedicated to experiential learning and community engagement," Lotfi said. "He promoted engagement with the community, particularly the Flint community.”
His family noted his high standards and that he always most enjoyed teaching, especially helping struggling students. According to Voland’s obituary, he often said: “The A-B students do not need me, their teacher; they’ll make it on their own. I’m here for the C-D students who are struggling, and might not make it without assistance; I want to help them grow and give them a chance to contribute professionally.”
Before coming to UM-Flint, Voland worked at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where his positions included dean of the College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science, director of the Center for Industrial Innovation and Design, and a professor of mechanical engineering. He also held positions at the Illinois Institute of Technology and Northeastern University.
When UM-Flint announced his hire, Voland was lauded for securing millions of dollars in funding for both research and educational initiatives during his professional career.
He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics from University of California-Los Angeles, and his Ph.D. in engineering design from Tufts University.
Voland and his wife Margaret have three sons.
— Submitted by Robert Gold