News | May 31, 2022

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Kagdi named U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering dean

Contributors: James Greco, Photography

Huzefa Kagdi expected to spend a few days before the Memorial Day weekend catching up on household chores and visiting with his family. But his plans changed when FGCU Provost Mark Rieger proposed a job change. The first line of Rieger’s email to campus told the story: “I am pleased to announce that Dr. Huzefa Kagdi has accepted my offer to be the next dean of U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering.”

Kagdi, who has served as interim dean since August 2021, officially drops the modifier June 1.

“The U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering is young and dynamic,” said Kagdi, who was selected following a nationwide search. “It has an impressive student population with highly dedicated faculty and staff. We can never forget a supportive community. I look forward to working collaboratively with our stakeholders to take the college to the next level of excellence.”

photo shows FGCU faculty member
Huzefa Kagdi joined FGCU in 2019 as chair of the Department of Software Engineering.

Kagdi is the son of two first-generation college graduates. His journey to FGCU started in the city of Dahod, India. It was there the future dean and his brother and sister learned a valuable lesson: “Education is the key, and it would not only uplift our family but also the community.”

The siblings took what they learned and focused on extensive collegiate careers. While his brother became a medical doctor in London, Kagdi concentrated on his love of computers. He earned three degrees, including a doctorate in computer science from Kent State University.

“My teaching, research topics and publications are all in software engineering,” Kagdi said.

After professorial stints at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Winston-Salem State University and Wichita State University, Kagdi brought his talents to FGCU. In 2019, he was named chair of the Department of Software Engineering, and, following the retirement of Richard Behr, took the interim dean position. Along the way, he married Shehnaaz. They have a daughter, Alana, and a pup named Emoji. Kagdi also learned to cook and became a prolific gardener with his own YouTube channel.

Not wanting to sound cliché, the new dean says all of it happened because he came to America.

“It was a land of opportunities and not necessarily just in financial terms. But, really, it was the freedom to do whatever you can. The opportunities this country offers to pursue whatever you want to pursue is really what was enticing to me.”

Provost Rieger said the new dean is the perfect choice to lead U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering.

“In less than a year as interim dean, Dr. Kagdi paved the way for expansion of college programs, increased faculty hiring, coordinated a campuswide data science initiative, and helped land a major gift,” Rieger said. “His track record of success combined with excellent credentials tipped the scales in his favor in a very competitive search.”

In addition to working on the university’s strategic plan, Rieger said there are already big plans for the college’s next leader.

“He will be adding a new dimension to the Whitaker College – computing and data science – which has been strongly supported in the community and by the students. This will involve hiring faculty and establishing new programs and will consume much of the first year.”

In addition to fundraising, Kagdi has more in store.

“We will be looking at expanding the construction management offerings. We may look into something like facilities management and planning and another related to architectural engineering. Also, we will work on enhancing our scholarly footprints and expanding our brand activity, all of it,” Kagdi said.

For more information about the U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering, visit fgcu.edu/eng.