A Note of Appreciation for Steve Cross

Steve Cross, executive vice president for research (EVPR), recently informed me that he intends to step down at the end of June 2018, at which time he will resume his research faculty position at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). In his 14 years at Georgia Tech, Steve has truly done an outstanding job in various senior leadership roles. Over the past seven years, he has served as Georgia Tech’s first EVPR, supporting research and thought leadership, enhancing the innovation ecosystem, and improving and sustaining the research support infrastructure at Georgia Tech. Prior to this appointment, he served as vice president and director of GTRI from 2003 to 2010. A professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the College of Computing and the Scheller College of Business, he has also served as president of the Georgia Tech Research Corporation, the Georgia Tech Research Corporation, and Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures.

In 2009, he agreed to assume a significant leadership role in the development of our 25-year strategic plan, Designing the Future. In 2011, he was the University System of Georgia representative to a State of Georgia strategic planning task force on science, technology, and innovation. He has represented Georgia Tech well in the state, and across the nation and world, while also supporting studies by the National Research Council, testifying before Congress, and serving as an advisor to government and industry.

Since May 2010, he has enthusiastically led our strategic research and economic development efforts in his EVPR role. The volume of research has grown dramatically under his leadership, along with the number of companies spinning out of our research program. Georgia Tech now reports $824.8 million in annual research and other sponsored program expenditures, including more than $100 million in industry research, a record for the Institute. While these measures are impressive, he has also brought together GTRI, the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), interdisciplinary research institutes (IRIs), and other research-active and support units to focus on initiatives that emphasize quality, along with diversification of the revenue base and innovative ways to make it easier for government, business, and industry to collaborate with Georgia Tech.

Steve’s leadership has helped to make the tagline “what does Georgia Tech think” truly relevant. Though I could name many examples, let me just highlight a few. Under his leadership, Georgia Tech’s colleges/schools and GTRI are collaborating as never before with significant joint work in robotics, cybersecurity, health analytics, and many other areas. For the first time in two decades, this fall we were awarded the leading role in an NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC), the focus of which is in an area Georgia Tech created: the manufacture of living cells to be used in a broad range of therapeutic applications. Winning the ERC was made possible through vision and collaboration within Georgia Tech, with other universities and industry, and philanthropic partnerships.

There is increasing national awareness of Georgia Tech’s impact in economic development as evidenced by the recent Brookings Institution report published last month that highlighted Tech’s role in economic development. Today, almost two dozen Fortune 500 companies have established innovation centers in and around Tech Square here at Georgia Tech, and startup activity is at an all-time high! Other emerging and growing innovation neighborhoods include Technology Enterprise Park, the North Avenue Research Area, the north campus area along 14th Street and Northside Drive, and the Cobb County Research Facility, each with a specific market focus. It has been a priority with Steve that all of the innovation neighborhoods offer experiential learning opportunities for our students.

While Steve always credits the faculty, students, and staff who make great things happen here, his tireless and enthusiastic leadership deserves significant recognition for these and many other accomplishments. While I could go on about the many successes we have accomplished under his leadership, let me just simply say – Thank You, Steve!  

We will announce the formation of a search committee to fill the EVPR role in the near future, but in the meantime, please join me in thanking Steve for all of the time, energy, and effort he has devoted to Georgia Tech and more importantly for his dedicated leadership as a vital member of my executive leadership team. Georgia Tech is a better place, thanks to him! 

We look forward to working with Steve for the remainder of this fiscal year, and as he remains a valued part of the Georgia Tech family as a GTRI faculty member.

G.P. "Bud" Peterson