NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch has announced the appointment of Donald H. Sebastian, PhD, senior vice president for research and development, to the position of interim provost, effective Jan. 1, 2009.
As NJIT’s new chief academic officer, Sebastian will work with the NJIT community in establishing and implementing the strategic academic objectives of the university where he has played an integral role for 13 years. He will continue to lead the university’s research effort, a role in which he has dramatically expanded partnerships with industry and managed government relations, intellectual property development, business incubation, commercialization, and projects across the science and technology spectrum. His academic appointment as professor is in the Otto H. York Department of Chemical, Biological and Pharmaceutical Engineering.
Prior to joining NJIT in 1995, Sebastian was a professor of chemical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, where he was a member of the faculty since receiving his PhD from Stevens in 1977. Among his notable contributions to Stevens was his acquiring of over $25M in external funding including significant funding for curricular development from FIPSE, the Exxon Education Foundation, Hewlett Packard and Digital Equipment Corporation. He is one of the earliest recipients of the Henry A. Morton Distinguished Teaching Professor Award.
Sebastian spearheaded NJIT’s growth in sponsored research with expenditures reaching $90M in fiscal year 2008, placing NJIT among the top 10 technological universities in the nation, while Federal funding nearly doubled since his appointment in the 2000 academic year. Significant contributors to that growth include a five-fold increase through FY07 in defense funding from $2.2M to $11M, near doubling of NSF funding from $4M to $7.8M and the expansion of NIH funding from $500K to $2.6M over the same period.
In addition, he was the academic lead for the development of the Newark Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a planned 100,000 square foot facility connecting clinical practice using adult stem cell therapies back to basic research in close collaboration with industrial partners. Establishment of the facility awaits release of a state grant of $50M written into legislation to build and equip it. Further, NJIT’s designation by Governor’s Executive Order in June 2004 as the NJ Homeland Security Technology Systems Center followed Sebastian’s program development and statewide guidance in the area of counter-terrorism. In addition, with state and federal support, he has led the institution’s work in a state program to develop child-safe weapons technology to develop the first biometric-based safety system for handguns.
As the principal academic organizer of the New Jersey Nanotechnology Consortium, Sebastian was instrumental in bringing the resources of the Lucent Bell Labs Silicon Fabrication Research Lab and e-Beam nano-facility to the statewide research community and served as its first board chair.
In 2006, Sebastian was inducted into the New Jersey High-Tech Hall of Fame.