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NASA scientist Peter Patton will become the University's Vice Provost for Information Systems and Computing, the University announced this week. Patton, described as a "world-class" computer master and scholar, will take office April 1, replacing Acting Vice Provost Ronald Arenson. Paul Kleindorfer, chairperson of the search committee that helped choose Patton, said last night he was pleased with the committee's selection. He said the committee picked Patton from a field of more than 150 candidates through a process that took over two years. The Decision Science professor added that Patton is "someone who is really going to bring to Penn a personal dimension, one of scholar and wit." Patton could not be reached for comment last night. The vice provost for computing position became vacant in November 1988, when then-Vice Provost David Stonehill accepted a position in President Bush's Executive Office as head of the Information Systems Resource Management Department. Arenson, a radiology professor in the Medical School, has served as acting vice provost since 1989. Provost Michael Aiken said last year that the administration would have liked Arenson to take the position full-time, but the professor has decided to return to his research. Aiken, who chose Patton in consultation with other top administrators, said last night Patton "is a man of immense experience in computers and wide-ranging interests -- a person everyone will like when they meet him." Patton is the founder of the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute. He has served as chief scientist and director of the National Technology Transfer Center in West Virginia, which is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration since 1988. Patton's career has been highlighted by a 12-year stint as director of the University of Minnesota Computer Center. He has also spent many years studying ways to apply computers to studies of the ancient world. He is the author or editor of five books and over 80 articles. He holds European Community and U.S. patents on a computer method for the generation of COBOL programs for business applications. Patton received his bachelor's degree in engineering and applied physics from Harvard University in 1957. He earned his masters in mathematics from Kansas University in 1959, followed by a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Germany's University of Stuttgart. He is "very bright and very energetic," Arenson said, "the experienced kind of leader that will identify with the faculty's need for computers." Kleindorfer said he expects Patton will also draw money to the University. "Patton has shown himself to be a very innovative, entrepreneuring fellow," Kleindorfer said.

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