Trustees recommend approval of competency-based degree, two new engineering degrees; vote to make building construction management technology a school

April 10, 2015  

INDIANAPOLIS - The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Friday (April 10) voted to recommend approval of a Bachelor of Science degree in Transdisciplinary Studies in Technology in the College of Technology to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

During a meeting at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, trustees also recommended approval to ICHE of new Master of Science and doctorate degrees in environmental and ecological engineering, and voted to rename the Department of Building Construction Management Technology as the School of Construction Management Technology.

The board also approved resolutions of appreciation for IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz and two donors, and approved two posthumous degrees.

The competency-based degree in transdisciplinary studies is a key part of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, one of the Purdue Moves initiatives designed to broaden Purdue's global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels said the degree also aligns with the university's strategic direction of accessibility, affordability and student success.

"This degree enables students to work closely with their faculty mentor to create a personalized plan of study around their explored interests," he said. "It allows the student to learn as fast as they are able to with no barriers, and as deliberately as they need to without penalties. It also shifts the focus from credit hours and grades to demonstrated capabilities. In many cases, it will reduce the time to graduation and, therefore, the cost of a degree."

The degree also will benefit the economy now and in the future, said Gary Bertoline, dean of the College of Technology.

"Surveys of employers emphasize the need for graduates who are technically competent and also well prepared for the 'thinking economy,'" he said. "Graduates need to be able to solve complex problems, communicate effectively and think critically."

Competency-based degrees are awarded based on demonstrated mastery of concepts and skills rather than performance measured only at fixed calendar intervals of classroom time, Bertoline said.

He said the program incorporates a higher level of integration among technical, scientific and humanities disciplines. A student must demonstrate expertise in eight broadly defined primary competencies in order to graduate.

The primary competencies include design thinking, effective communication, social interaction and teamwork, ethical reasoning, and innovation and creativity.

Purdue Polytechnic Institute faculty spent a year working to create the proposed transdisciplinary degree. In the process, faculty examined all aspects of higher education and incorporated the latest research about human learning and motivation, Bertoline said. Learning will be organized around themes and driven by problems rather than "seat time," and students will receive credentials based on demonstrated competencies.

Bertoline said the degree would be ready to be offered this fall if approved by ICHE. The principles and approaches of the degree are being piloted in the current academic year with students from different majors, primarily from the College of Technology.

Trustees also approved recommending master's and Ph.D. programs in environmental and ecological engineering to ICHE. They would be the first graduate-level programs in environmental engineering at a public institution in Indiana, said Mark J.T. Smith, dean of the Graduate School.

"The programs will provide vital transformative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and world-changing research opportunities to graduate students," Smith said. "They also will provide a leadership role in Indiana's economic and social development by preparing EEE graduates to join a high-quality, educated workforce in an area of national need."

Smith said labor market demand for EEE graduates is strong. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national growth rate of employment in the field is projected to be greater than 15 percent. Growth in Indiana is projected to be more than 29 percent.

He said the curriculum will train engineers to apply their technical understanding of systems engineering, biology and chemistry to develop strategies to protect human and environmental health.

The program will utilize faculty and resources from nine schools of Engineering, including civil, agricultural and biological, chemical, material, mechanical, engineering education, nuclear, aeronautics and astronautics, and electrical and computer.

The degree programs, if approved by the commission, would begin in August.

Bertoline said making the Department of Building Construction Management Technology the School of Construction Management Technology will support expansion of the program to offer additional degrees in construction and areas related to the construction industry.

"This will create an organizational structure that provides greater visibility and supports flexibility for students to study many areas in the construction field and expand into new disciplines closely related to construction," he said.

Bertoline also said three of Purdue's six peer programs at research universities are named as schools while programs at six other peer and aspirational universities are similarly designated.

Trustees approved a resolution of appreciation for Bantz, who has served as chancellor of IUPUI since 2003. Bantz served as a member of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors from 2007 to 2011 and the NCAA's Executive Committee from 2008 to 2011, and was a member of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities' Board of Directors from 2011 to 2013. He will step aside as chancellor in August.

Resolutions of appreciation were approved for donor J. Warner Griswold (School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Sciences) and an anonymous donor (Krannert School of Management). The donors contributed $1 million or more.

Trustees approved posthumous Bachelor of Science degrees for Kaylee N. Smith, a senior in the College of Health and Human Sciences, and Sandra K. Parris, a senior in the School of Science at IUPUI. 

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, 

Sources: Mitch Daniels,

Debasish Dutta, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs,

Gary Bertoline, 765-494-2552,

Mark J.T. Smith, 765-494-2604, 

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