The University of Akron’s prestigious College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, which lost its dean two months ago amid criticism of significant faculty cuts, now has an interim dean.

Ali Dhinojwala, the H.A. Morton Professor of Polymer Science, will take the appointment Tuesday.

“As interim dean, I will work with my colleagues and the administration to advance our research infrastructure and the success of our students.” Dhinojwala said. “I am passionate about research, and I understand the important role that our research and our graduates play in the local and state economy.

“We will engage with polymer industries and our community to promote economic growth and our students’ employment across the region and the state,” he said.

The former dean, Eric Amis, announced he would step down in March. He’d held the position since 2014.

At the time, Amis told the Beacon Journal his “ability to be an effective dean was compromised by UA’s responses to its financial problems.”

He said he was attracted to the university by former President Luis Proenza’s “vision for the importance of UA and the polymer college and what they bring to the state of Ohio.”

Particularly important to him, he said, “was the ability to replace faculty and strategically grow the college as outlined in my [2014] appointment letter.”

In the succeeding years, the college’s faculty was reduced from 42 to roughly 30 — many leaving for professional or personal reasons — and UA was notably criticized by a prominent polymer science professor that it was not focusing enough on the college, one of the region’s key economic drivers.

UA continues to deal with budget woes, including a deficit projected to be $20 million for this fiscal year.

With Dhinojwala’s appointment, Rex Ramsier, executive vice president and chief administration officer, said, “We are fortunate to have someone of Ali’s talent and research profile to lead the college. I look forward to working with him to further elevate the college’s impact and visibility.”

Dhinojwala joined UA in 1997. He was named outstanding researcher by the university in 2010, one of several research and teaching honors he holds. He earned a doctorate from Northwestern.

He and researchers in California and Delaware recently received $7.5 million in federal funds to study how the arrangement of melanin particles in bird feathers creates a spectrum of colors. Ultimately, they want to mimic those patterns to create synthetic colors.