College of Engineering announces strategic, five-year growth plan

October 10, 2012  


Engineering growth

Leah Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering, explains the college's strategic five-year growth plan. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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The College of Engineering is embarking on a plan to strategically increase its enrollment and its number of faculty and staff during the next five years -- an initiative expected to boost the University's profile and enhance the value of a Purdue degree.

The college's expansion fits into a national initiative to graduate an additional 10,000 engineers each year, says acting President Tim Sands.

"This national initiative is a call for innovation and competitiveness," Sands says. "Given Purdue's reputation and pride in engineering, it's critical for us to be part of this effort. We know that, if we invest in the College of Engineering's growth plan wisely and strategically, we can give our University and this country the strongest foundation possible for many generations to come."

During the initiative, the college will look to hire up to an additional 107 faculty members, which will increase the college's number of faculty by 30 percent. The college will look to increase undergraduate enrollment by 691, or 10 percent, and graduate student enrollment by 750 to 800, or 25 to 30 percent, during this time.

It also will look to hire additional staff members -- ranging from support staff to development professionals to information technology specialists -- to support the growth in faculty and students.

Leah Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering, says the initiative is in line with the growth the college has experienced in the previous five years. During that time, undergraduate enrollment has increased by 17 percent, graduate enrollment has increased by 28 percent and annual research expenditures have increased by 79 percent.

Investing in the College of Engineering will boost its reputation and, by extension, the University's. In turn, that will increase the value of all Purdue degrees, Jamieson says.

"Looking forward, this unprecedented growth will help us better position our already stellar graduates for post-college success, and it will help boost the University's already considerable reputation on the national and global stages," Jamieson says.

“Growing engineering contributes to the economic development of the state and the nation. Engineering jobs pay well, and unemployment in engineering is lower than the average for other disciplines. In addition, engineering will play an important role in addressing global grand challenges ranging from energy and the environment to security and health care.”

When hiring faculty, the college will focus on its most pressing needs first. Those hiring efforts will immediately improve student-to-faculty ratios, a result that will allow engineering students to experience deeper learning in more collaborative environments.

Some efforts to hire faculty will involve the Office of the Provost's cluster hiring program, which involves targeted hiring across colleges to support interdisciplinary fields. Faculty hiring efforts related to interdisciplinary majors also will include other colleges, Jamieson says. For example, the initiative includes hiring at least six new faculty members for the University's integrated imaging program, which involves chemistry, the biosciences, electrical and computer engineering, and biomedical engineering.

Faculty members hired through the initiative will bring to the University additional research opportunities, which will create cross-campus collaborations that will be vital for Purdue's future.

The initiative will be funded through a combination of funds from the Office of the Provost, the college's differential fees, reallocation of funds within engineering and a five-year $135 million fundraising campaign, Jamieson says.

One goal during hiring will be to increase the diversity of the college's faculty and staff, Jamieson says. The college will seek diverse faculty to create a more welcoming environment for students of all genders, races and ethnicities.

In turn, having more diversity among faculty and staff is expected to attract more diverse students and therefore more employers and recruiters to campus-wide job fairs and roundtables.

"Research has proven that heterogeneous professional groups outperform homogenous groups, and this fact has led employers to seek out an ever-more-diverse workforce," Jamieson says. "Embarking on our plans to hire faculty on an unprecedented scale allows us to diversify ourselves at a very efficient rate that will be extremely beneficial to our graduates."

The college's expansion will require an estimated additional 150,000 square feet of space. Short term, that need may be met through reallocating and repurposing the college's existing space. Long term, the college will use its planned fundraising campaign to repurpose existing space and to help create new space that reflects the changes in education and emerging research areas.

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu

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