Consensus: Engineering a new dean

The College of Engineering is searching for a new dean, and as the search nears its end, faculty, students and the administration must communicate what qualities they believe most important in a candidate and what the new dean’s priorities should be upon taking office.
Within the College, the dean should look for ways of innovating curricula while maintaining academic standards. He should also look at finding new ways to give students as much hands-on experience as possible. The college needs to embrace a new system where traditional teaching methods mesh with hands-on, problem-based learning.
The new dean should create and expand partnerships outside of the college, and embrace and expand interdisciplinary initiatives. Research centers should involve faculty from every college and school, cross-disciplinary senior capstones should be encouraged at every opportunity and programs like the Management and Technology minor should be promoted to give students a firm background in the business side of engineering.
In a broader sense, the new dean must remember that the dean is the faculty’s voice to the administration, not the administration’s voice to the faculty. Whenever the needs of the engineering faculty conflict with the needs of the Institute at large, the dean should be explaining to the administration the importance of the CoE faculty’s work, rather than explaining to the faculty why they need to suffer further cuts. The administration needs to keep this in mind when evaluating, picking and, later, working with the dean candidates. The best candidate will be one they can see themselves working with, but also one that is not afraid to take a stand for the College. Especially in times of financial strife, the faculty need to know they have someone in their corner who will fight for their needs.


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