New chief academic officer to oversee quality education standards

  • Published
  • By Katie Scott
  • Air Force Institute of Technology

Dr. Heidi Ries has been selected as the Air Force Institute of Technology’s chief academic officer, responsible for overseeing and ensuring the highest standards of academic quality in both graduate and professional continuing education instruction and research.

In this role, Ries has direct oversight for achieving and sustaining institute and program accreditation; the faculty promotion and tenure process; development of new, distinctive and innovative academic programs; and long-range planning for sustaining and improving academic program quality.

“Dr. Heidi Ries was selected as the best-qualified candidate from a field of exceptionally qualified applicants identified through a national search,” said Dr. Todd Stewart, AFIT director and chancellor.  “Dr. Ries will provide the strong, visionary academic leadership that AFIT needs to better support the U.S. Air and Space Forces today and in the future.”

Ries is also a professor of physics within AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management, where she served as dean for research prior this appointment. 

“AFIT’s STEM workforce development offerings, defense-focused technical innovations, and external partnerships have grown significantly in recent years, and I am very excited about the opportunity to further enhance AFIT’s support to national defense imperatives,” Ries said.

Before joining AFIT in 1999, Ries served as professor of physics and director of the Center for Materials Research at Norfolk State University in Virginia.  She earned a philosophy doctorate in applied physics from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, with dissertation research conducted at NASA Langley Research Center. 

Ries volunteers as the past chair of the Board of Trustees for the Engineering and Science Foundation of Dayton and member of the Martin University Board of Trustees.  She is a member of the Higher Learning Commission’s Team Chair Corps and serves as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and advisor for various university initiatives. 

In 2011, Ries was the Air Force’s civilian recipient of the Department of Defense Women's History Month Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Role Model Award.  The same year, she also earned the Air Force’s National Latina Distinguished Service Award.  The Dayton Daily News recognized Ries as one of the region’s Ten Top Women in 2009.

AFIT is the Air Force’s leader for advanced, multi-disciplinary academic education, as well as its institution for technical professional continuing education. A component of Air University and Air Education and Training Command, the institute is committed to providing innovative, defense-focused graduate education and related research, and operationally relevant professional continuing education to sustain the technological supremacy of America’s air, space and cyber forces. 

Since 2008, AFIT has been designated as the Air Force’s Cyber Technical Center of Excellence.