The College of Technology celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, but Dean Anthony “Tony” Ambler was thinking about the future, not the past, as he took office this summer. The college has seen strong growth in enrollment and is climbing in the national rankings—the engineering technology program, for example, is among the top four in the nation.

Ambler said that record of improvement, along with his longtime interest in moving research and technology out of academia and into the real world, drew him to the job. He recently shared his views on that and other topics with UH Magazine.

President Khator often mentions she was attracted to UH because of the tremendous potential she saw here. Was this also true for you?

Most definitely—the potential of the College of Technology, the potential of UH and the potential of the greater Houston area. Having been in Texas before (he previously served as chairman of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin), I am very aware of what is happening here. The college is already on an upward path, with overlapping and interdisciplinary subject areas that are going to make a big difference in the types of programs we can offer. It isn’t “just another college of technology”—it is so much more than what we see elsewhere. The diversity of its programs puts us in a position to collaborate with all of the other UH colleges, and provide industry, commerce and government with an unrivalled range of educational opportunities and research.

Where do you see the college 10 years from now?

It’s too easy to just say that in 10 years I expect to see more students, more graduate students, an established research program, more industry and commerce interactions, more publications, more development income—all of which I do expect. But a really good thing would be for students, faculty and staff to be proud of their college and say “That’s my college,” and for others to say, “Wow, look what the College of Technology is doing.” I would like us to set the standard for other colleges of technology.

More important, the College of Technology will be a resource for Houston, Texas and the nation.

Tell us about your leadership style.

Leadership is not about the “leader” or the person at the top. It is about encouraging and facilitating the team to flourish. And by the team, I mean the faculty, staff and students, with advice and input from our alumni and advisory boards. We need to hear from everyone.

Tony Ambler 101:

  • A native of the United Kingdom, Ambler earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
  • He met his wife, Judith, when students at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
  • He most recently served as academic and workforce director in the Office of Economic Engagement at the University of South Carolina, where he previously served as dean of the College of Engineering and Computing.
  • He is a pilot and collects history books, antique scientific instruments, antique guns and parchments.