Narayanamurti, one of the longest serving deans at Harvard, oversaw the transition of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science into a school last fall, a move he and other University officials billed as a sign of Harvard's heightened commitment to the applied sciences.
Narayanamurti was selected by former University President Neil L. Rudenstine and former Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles to build up Harvard's presence in the applied sciences.
“I actually strongly believe that Harvard would not be a great university without a strong program in applied sciences,” Narayanamurti said in an interview last year.
He said that it was important to turn the engineering division into its own school because doing so would show the value that the University places on the disciplines and allow it to train "Renaissance engineers" whose technical educations would be complimented with knowledge of the social sciences and an understanding of communications.
Narayanamurti announced his intention to return to the faculty in June 2005, but later decided to remain to help lead the changeover.
As nanoscience researcher, he spent his deanship deepening and broadening the SEAS faculty, which is now 50 percent larger than it was in 1998, according to a University statement. Sponsored research has grown 60 percent during his tenure, the statement said.
A native of India who earned a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell, Narayanamurti will step down in September 2008 and will focus full-time on his professorship within the SEAS.
A committee led by Provost Steven E. Hyman and Dean of the Faculty Michael D. Smith will be appointed to search for a successor.
—Check thecrimson.com for updates.
—Clifford M. Marks contributed to the reporting of this story.