Professor of Computer Science Yuqing Melanie Wu, an expert in data management and query optimization whose love for teaching drew her to the liberal arts, will become Pomona’s next vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College effective July 1.
Wu arrived at Pomona in 2014 as a visiting associate professor and was hired as a tenured associate professor the following year. Her desire to devote more time to teaching led her to Pomona after serving as a faculty member at research institutions. That pursuit of excellence in the classroom was recognized in 2021 when Wu received the Wig Award, the highest honor faculty members can receive at Pomona.
Her leadership experience includes numerous Pomona faculty and academic committees and consortium-wide task forces for computer science. She chaired Pomona’s Computer Science Department from 2017 to 2020. Currently, she’s completing a fellowship with the American Council on Education (ACE), a comprehensive and rigorous leadership program in higher education.
“I’m struck by her openness, transparency and eagerness to get input from across the College,” says Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr. “I know Melanie will be a key partner in supporting our talented faculty, promoting a compelling liberal arts curriculum for our students and elevating Pomona’s unique role in creating opportunity in American higher education.”
With more than 70 peer-reviewed articles published, Wu pursues research on data representation and data management with a special focus in query languages, indexing and query optimization. Wu has conducted research in the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Belgium, in addition to the U.S., and her research has received support from NSF and NIH grants.
At Pomona, she is a member of the Global Pomona Project steering committee, a group tasked with shaping Pomona’s role in the world for decades to come. As a first-generation immigrant and a woman of color in the field of computer science, Wu notes that she “is keenly aware of the challenges people with diverse backgrounds face. It’s important to recognize that pursuing diversity, equity and inclusion is a journey of lifelong learning for all.”
A member of the Council on Women, part of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), Wu has worked tirelessly for more than a decade to support, promote and celebrate underrepresented minorities in computer science.
As a faculty member, Wu values how much her scholarship and love for education are recognized and appreciated here at Pomona. “As the next Dean of the College, I’m thrilled to represent faculty, collaborate with leadership and support President Starr as we move forward on the heels of two challenging years due to the pandemic,” she says.
She earned her B.S. and M.S. in computer science from Peking University in China. She went on to receive an M.S. from Indiana University Bloomington and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
Wu will succeed Professor of Geology Robert Gaines, who has served as dean of the College since 2019.
"I want to offer Bob my deepest gratitude for his diligence, care and talent in carrying out this role amid the many challenges of the pandemic," says President Starr. She also noted Gaines oversaw the successful reaccreditation of the College for a 10 year period and restructured the dean’s office to enhance faculty support and our liberal arts advising program. Gaines also worked to raise the profile of faculty research and creative production on campus. He will be returning to his research next year undertaking a sabbatical leave.