Address to the College Faculty and Staff
presented by Dean David B. Williams
April 23, 2013
Thank you all for coming. It is good to see that our faculty, staff and administration are engaged and interested in the future of our college. It’s been a great second year for me. I am fortunate to work with a diverse and talented leadership team. I continue to be amazed by the really stunning examples of great teaching that abound in our college, by the brilliance of the cutting-edge scholarship that we exhibit across the board, and by the way everyone is committed to the community, the region and the State of Ohio, befitting our role as THE Ohio State University.
So how are we doing?
Let’s start with Undergraduate Education and Diversity.
Semester transition is over, done, complete, and successful!
We are managing through the largest enrollments in our history and graduating yet another record class in a week or two. Paid acceptances for next year are up almost 10%, minority acceptances are up by 50% and women by 10%. What an extraordinary achievement by David Tomasko and his team and the Chairs and Directors across the college.
Even during these tough times we continue to explore new educational opportunities for our students, in line with our strategic plan, including:
- Developing a new "Global Option" for undergraduate engineers
- Working on a new Data Analytics degree with Arts and Science
- Exploring a joint business-engineering degree
- Creating two new innovative programs connecting to K12: "hometown ambassadors" and "translating engineering research to K-8”
- Teaching our first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and iBook courses as part of the university’s Digital First program and our deep collaboration with Apple. Currently Jennifer Cowley’s MOOC has over 17,000 students registered.
In these times of soaring enrollment, we can raise the academic standards of our college while continuing to fulfill our land-grant mission to the State of Ohio. Balancing these two will require a major commitment to recruiting and retaining under-represented minorities. We are close to hiring a new associate dean for diversity and outreach to build on the outstanding work of Mary Juhas. Even after Mary’s departure to Bricker Hall our diversity and outreach office remains at the national and local forefront. As we have committed in our strategic plan.
- Women in Engineering (WiE) and Minority Engineering Program (MEP) managed to provide academic support for a record numbers of students.
- MEP received one of three NSBE/ExxonMobil national Impact awards.
- Northland high school STEM club swept two of three pre-college categories at a national NSBE conference.
- WiE supports the FIRST Lego League "WiE Techies" team, won the research award in a regional competition, and supports the only two all-female cohorts for Project Lead the Way at Hilliard-Davidson high school, which received national recognition during Engineers Week back in February.
- Shawna Fletcher was elected to the Board of WEPAN, continuing OSU’s representation at the highest levels of this national organization.
Jennifer Evans-Cowley continues to lead Academic Affairs and Administration, balancing multiple tasks ranging from taking legal action against the FAA, to the allocation of space (still the final frontier!). In terms of infrastructure it is a Tale of Two Cities— the best of times and the worst of times. The new CBEC building rises close to the fabulous Scott Lab. Our old buildings, while some are struggling, now at least have signage that is accurate and freshly painted and “Hi chock” Hall has finally received its missing T. Jennifer works with our outstanding group of unit leaders as, in line with our strategic plan, we grow our faculty through outstanding new hires, we fight to retain our best faculty, we find solutions to dual-career appointments, which are fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. And we tenure and promote some truly eminent young faculty. So far this year we have hired 20 new faculty members with 5 more offers pending. 35% of these hires are women or persons of color, demonstrating our commitment across the college to increasing the diversity of our faculty.
Hiring leaders is of critical importance to elevating the college. We have hired a new head of landscape architecture and are currently searching for leaders to head our cancer imaging and manufacturing clusters. Doroto Brzezinzka will step into Carloyn Merry’s shoes as chair of CEE in a few weeks and soon we will announce a new chair for ECE to take over from Rob Lee in due course.
Lastly, I note that we continue to see national and international recognition of our best faculty. In particular I wish to call out Professor Josesph Heremans for his election to the NAE, where he joins an elite group of 13 Ohio State academicians.
Managing both the financial and the personnel issues that confront the college on a daily basis requires careful and prudent planning and we are blessed with Marie Mead under whose leadership:
- We have the financial resources to support our strategic plan.
- We continue to offer annual pay raises from within our budget.
- We continue to work with the units to put together competitive start-up and retention packages.
- We continue to build our team of financial and HR professionals in the college and all our units to ensure we are providing the highest quality service to the College and University.
- The College Business Operations Center has become a model for the University for procurement and payroll processing.
- The multi-year outlook is very good, even though FY2014 may present some challenges.
I also note also that Chase Canfield, our talented HR director is leaving for pastures new in private industry in Toledo. Under Marie’s guidance we will seek a new leader who will continue to engage with the staff, through our Engineering College Advisory Council. We are blessed with outstanding members of staff without whom all the achievements I have noted would not be possible.
Graduate and Professional Studies
I wish to publicly thank Associate Dean Roberto Rojas for his years of service to the college. Roberto will be standing down at the end of June and will once again playing a prominent role in ESL and the ECE department. Under Roberto's leadership our strategic plan has made much progress:
- After many years of working the bureaucracy, the MGEL program was approved by CCAA and Graduate School and is moving on to CAA.
- We now have a Graduate Program Manager (Dr. La’Tonia Stiner-Jones) who has sped up the development of a Strategic Graduate Recruitment and Retention Plan and has increased our visibility around campus
- We have created a college task force on eLearning. This group has generated a strategic plan for adopting eLearning technologies and providing technical support for our faculty
- We have hired Bob Mick from Fisher to take the lead in implementing the MGEL and starting new certificate and professional programs
- We have seen the successful implementation of partnerships with Chinese universities. ECE students are now studying at Shanghai Jiao Tong and SJTU students are in our ECE department. A joint MSE PhD program with SJTU is almost finalized. BME is exploring a partnership with Peking University and KSA is continuing to expand its international experiences, now on three continents
- Next year in line with our strategic plan, we will be hiring a full time leader of our international partnerships.
As outlined in our strategic plan, under Randy Moses’ leadership, we continue to seek new and innovative ways to broaden our research base while building on the traditional strengths within the college. I wish to note three specific major accomplishments:
1) We signed a Master Research agreement with Honda, one of our most key strategic industrial partners. Honda recently made a major gift toward the development of a major research program in computational engineering.
2) We have assembled and built one of the world's preeminent research facilities in material characterization. The Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis, CEMAS, occupies 22,000 square feet in the TechColumbus building, and houses one of the highest concentrations of advanced instruments in any university worldwide. The CEO of FEI (the world's leader in electron microscopy instrument development) shared with us that this is the most well-designed facility he has ever seen, of the dozens worldwide that he toured. A major opening event is scheduled in the fall, and since this event is in the hands of two Scotsmen, professors McComb and Fraser, I can guarantee some fine refreshments.
3) While traditional federal sources are constant or decreasing, the federal government will still spend in excess of $3T dollars this year and so we need to find new ways to tap into their procurement streams. We are developing a comprehensive program for capturing and winning major proposals. So we are partnering with the VP of Research, and the deans of medicine, A&S, Vet Med and FAES to build a proposal development center. We have hired the first of two research business development positions—Marty Kress, who will work throughout Ohio to find where the funded research opportunities exist and to help build bridges to those opportunities for our faculty. We have formalized an arrangement in which Battelle's Corporate Proposal Writing Center will be used to incubate our own such Center. Last month we completed a proposal for a University Transportation Center to U.S. Department of Transportation using that Center, and the value of that process was very highly regarded by the faculty members who participated.
So in the areas of education, research and outreach, we are implementing our strategic plan. The plans of our individual units are well aligned with the college's plan putting us in a good position to benefit from the discovery theme investments when they are decided. Again, this has entitled a great deal of thought and discussion and I thank the whole executive committee for their commitment.
None of these amazing successes in difficult times come without concomitant challenges. They are, not surprisingly, the same issues raised in previous state of the college addresses and include:
- Balancing the undergraduate teaching needs of the College due to increased enrollment with the financial resources available to the college
- As we hire more faculty and enroll more students, we will be more space-constrained. We have prepared a master plan, but it takes a significant amount of time and financial resources to fund new buildings. Efficient utilization of space is of paramount importance—we cannot seek new space from the University unless we have shown them that we are doing all we can to make good use of the space we have.
- Our key priorities are a new building to support BME’s move to main campus, and modernize materials science and engineering in partnership with the strategic materials thrust in the College of Arts and Science
- Providing modern classrooms and teaching labs to support our students.
- We are also seeking to build a manufacturing research facility to support CAR and our manufacturing research throughout the college.
- How to continue growing our research programs in the face of very tight federal and state budgets.
- Sequestration; flat federal R&D budgets, changing focus of State research support from University-centered Third Frontier much more toward industry job growth have all led to a decrease in IDC. So as noted, we are finding new ways to support our research programs and fund our research aspirations.
Addressing these challenges
As always in these times of recession, we focus on finance. For the third time in five years the university has decided to not raise in-state tuition. We have now the third lowest tuition in the Big Ten; tuition and fees at one such institution are now more than $5k/student/year greater than ours. With over 9000 students, you can do the math on the financial challenges of remaining competitive in the Big Ten. The amazing job Marie Mead has done in managing our budget needs full recognition from everyone here. Let me stress that, while education is not a business enterprise, the business model of the college must be robust otherwise we cannot carry out our mission of education research and service
So, as we are still challenged to rise to eminence, we must be more inventive than others who have more resources, if we are to increase our college's financial strength. We must focus on both the ways in which we can cut costs and the ways we can increase the income streams over which we have influence. We have three such income streams:
Research, development, professional
So we must continue to invest in these three areas as we seek to grow the quality of the education we offer and the scholarship we perform and the outreach we make to our community and our state.
As I noted, we have hired a new director for continuing, professional education Bob Mick, who will start this month and will be charged with generating a robust income stream for those faculty who wish to participate, for this units that support such outreach and for the college which is investing strongly in it.
Matt McNair our Chief Advancement Officer is working with the leaders to develop the details of the strategic advancement plan, of the individual units and the college. These plans include hiring a new director of communications and several new development officers. We remain on track to meet our goal of $350M, even as Matt is building the very best advancement team in the nation. He has talented new development officers, and directors of stewardship and communications, Matt Schutte who is tweeting this conversation even as I speak. Our expectations of both Matts are high. The College and the Foundation are investing resources that will provide huge opportunities in advancement, and we will ensure a high return rate on this investment. Already this past year we have received gifts to endow chairs from Monte Ahuja and Bill and Susan Lhota, and we are closing in on a joint chair with the Glenn School in aerospace policy.
Most importantly, research is the largest item in the budget and the endeavor most closely tied to our scholarly achievements. It is now clear that the national research funding picture has changed, perhaps irrevocably. Traditional sources such as NSF and NIH will be at best constant and at worst reduced over the next 5-10 years. Many of our faculty continue to write proposals with less than a 10% chance of funding. We have to ask if such efforts are a wise use of time and intellectual capability. Is such continued seeking of low probability funding driven by the fact that success in winning such grants has traditionally been recognized as the sine qua non for academic recognition? Should that remain so?
Almost 75% of the several hundred billion dollars spent annually on research in the U.S. comes from industry. We pride ourselves in having the largest amount of industry funded research of any public university in the nation. So I believe we should further align our research with where the money is. Then we must also recognize that industry funding is as important and as worthy of academic recognition as traditional NSF and NIH-types of funding. So, under Randy’s leadership and that of many of our most productive researchers, we are focusing on larger, more comprehensive centers tackling high-impact research problems with strong industry support, as well as seeking both higher risk and higher return funding from non-traditional federal sources.
Honda is our major industry partner. We have a $45M endowment through the Transportation Research Center operating surpluses, which continues to help with the pipeline of new engineers and improving both our automotive-related teaching and research. Honda is a leader in hiring our graduates and supporting our research—including a recent $5M commitment to create a design simulation center. Honda has also moved its North American headquarters to Ohio and committed to $500M of new investments in the state. Honda's success affects 144,000 households in Ohio. So even stronger partnering with Honda is not just good academic and financial sense; it is also required of us by our land-grant mission. So a team of faculty with strong Honda ties are re-examining how we invest the Honda endowment, how to ensure the best return on this extraordinary commitment and how best to re-align our TRC funds with a re-aligned Honda. We have committed to a cluster hire in manufacturing, three Honda endowment-supported chairs will be open this summer and we are creating a new center for design and manufacturing excellence (CDME) driven by Honda and other Ohio manufacturers. Faculty from several departments as well as colleagues in Fisher and FAES are all involved. Note that, in line with our strategic plan, this partnership is all about energy and environment. The major issue facing automotive manufacturers is meeting the 2025 CAFE standards via green manufacturing to produce a smaller carbon footprint and increase our dependence on home-grown energy sources. So in doing this we are also well aligned with the University’s Energy and Environment Discovery Theme
Another Ohio manufacturer of note is GE Aviation, the world’s leading manufacturer of jet turbines. GE Aviation is the single largest employer of our graduates, and has almost 40 of their engineers full time on our campus, studying for higher degrees, and funding research addressing GE’s problems. GE supported President Gee as we visited Embraer in Brazil seeking another major industry partner for OSU Engineering. With this kind of commitment from GE, we are in a unique position to explore new ways for our faculty, staff and students to partner with a world-leading industry seeking to solve some of the most complex engineering problems in the world. GE is reaching out to us offering new partnerships and we have a faculty team working to come up with novel solutions to GE’s challenge. The aerospace industry, like the automotive, is focused on greater fuel efficiency via greener manufacturing for a lower carbon footprint, well aligned again with the Energy and Environment Discovery Theme.
The GE partnership is just one aspect of our leadership in aerospace, aviation and flight in which faculty from seven units within the college are all involved in the broader effort focusing on the creation of a new and very broad based aerospace research center
On our own campus, the university, the state and the federal government have invested more in our medical center than anywhere else. So we need to reach out and bring engineering solutions to crucial medical problems. One area where we are well positioned is in neuroscience. In spinal surgery, neuro-stimulation and brain imaging, we can help solve some of the nation's and the world's most pressing health issues from Alzheimer's to lower back pain. Faculty from five units are all involved in growing this partnership into what might be the major source of funding for research in the near future. Here we are firmly supporting the health and wellness discovery theme. There are many more such collaborations across this one university that I do not have time to address.
So we recognize the ways the world is changing: the need to embrace electronic education, the need to value industry partnerships even more and the need to expand the diversity of everything that we do. In this changing world we have to constantly re-examine how we perform our education and research mission. So allow me to end by asking a few pertinent questions:
Should we continue to set exactly the same expectations for our younger faculty as those that had to be met by faculty of my generation?
Is the only route to academic research success the traditional measures such as single-investigator grants, single-author papers and first-author papers?
Are such traditional measures compatible with increasing evidence that solutions to the world’s major problems are rarely, if ever, found in the work of a single investigator or published in a single-author paper?
Is the tenure track the only route to success in the academy? Are we missing out on those in this generation of young engineers who regard the prospect of a lifetime appointment as the very antithesis of their goals in life?
While we continue to hire the very best professors, should we explore other options such as short-term contracts for bright young academicians who do not wish to leap on the tenure treadmill, for whom we can set different teaching and/or scholarship goals and whom we expect to move on within several years?
In today’s world we educate and we advise our students electronically and our students can be anywhere (and increasingly are). In today’s world we partner with the very best faculty and research colleagues anywhere the world. So is the Columbus campus the only place for an Ohio State professor to work full time?
Can we envisage hiring professors who work at the best place in the world to develop their particular area of scholarship, yet continue to teach and advise their students from a distance?
If such a place is Battelle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Shanghai Jiao Tong University or GE Aviation, should we insist that all our professors still spend the bulk of their time around the intersection of Neil and 19th Avenue?
We are in a world where engineering technology changes fundamentally over the time period of a traditional assistant professorship, where the best scholars are anywhere in the world and where educational content is available anywhere. I propose that we explore our hiring practices, our tenure and promotion criteria and our expectations of academic performance to reflect the world in which our new professors will be living, not the world in which my generation established our scholarly and teaching credentials. I challenge the college to lead the way to eminence by changing the definitions of success of engineering in the 21st century. Time and change may surely show… that if we don’t like change, we might need to learn to enjoy irrelevance!
Address to the College Faculty and Staff
presented by Dean David B. Williams
December 4, 2012
Thank you all for coming. We have great faculty and staff to guide our increasingly outstanding students. Thank you for all you have done to ensure a smooth semester transition. Thank you for continuing to seek, attract, hire, mentor and tenure only the very best faculty and staff. They are the key to our future. Our top faculty continue to receive Fellowships of professional societies, distinguished professorships and honorary doctorates. Ten of our faculty were nominated for the NAE this year: a record. Such achievements are the currency of eminence in our world. We senior professors, in particular, must continue to nominate our younger colleagues for such awards. This is one of our prime responsibilities.
We have hired one of the best chief advancement officers in the country. Thank you for your patience as we went through the process. We look forward to Matt taking the helm and leading us to success in our $350M campaign. He is moving quickly to put in place the best communications staff in the university, as requested by our faculty leaders. There is excitement among our 50,000 alumni as they continue to support the college. Matt will be involving you in fundraising because alumni remember their teachers, their advisors, their chairs and the members of staff who helped change their lives as young men and women. Please work with Matt as he asks for your help.
A search committee is in place to find the very best leader for our diversity and outreach program. We already have over 40 nominations and I expect to recruit another national leader to build on the strong platform established by Mary Juhas and her team.
Our strategic plan is being implemented and continues to guide all our decisions. Thank you for your hard work and your patience as the plan was hatched. In Jennifer Cowley’s absence in DC, let me bring you up to date on a few key faculty issues. We have a cadre of new and re-appointed chairs and directors who are taking the helm of their units with skill and confidence. We have our first cluster hires underway, partnering with the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine for spine research, The James Comprehensive Cancer Center for cancer imaging and the Fisher College of Business for aerospace and automotive manufacturing.
Another round of cluster hires will soon be underway and we expect outstanding proposals, especially now we are in a position to leverage the Discovery Theme investments of the University. More about that later.
We have searches actively underway. In the next two years we will be hiring 45 new faculty! We are extending offers to a few outstanding interdisciplinary scholars. When we hire the right people, they bring us to eminence.
Thank you to all of you who continue to write outstanding research proposals and my congratulations to those who are successful in bringing in the grants, supporting graduate students and publishing papers. We are continuing to invest in support for the research funding process, and the creation of new research centers/institutes. Randy will tell you more about this.
The world of education is changing. We professors are no longer the guardians of the course content and the purveyors of information. We must become the guardians of the correct information and the purveyors of the knowledge that comes through critical thinking and understanding why such information is correct.
The university is investing in electronic delivery of content through its Digital First program, iTunes University and Coursera. These are OSU’s selection of the education technology essential to foster a 21st century mobile learning environment. The College is the leader in technological research in this university. We should likewise be the leaders in the technology of teaching. Our students expect nothing less and we will not disappoint them. David and Roberto are making sure we lead in this and we will hear from them soon.
We do all of this with our sights set on rising in the national rankings, consistent with the university’s stated goal of achieving eminence. Thank you to our department chairs for an outstanding job in documenting how to counter the general decline in our US News and World Report rankings. Doing what we have done in the past will not counter this decline. So we will do things differently. Thank you to members of the leadership team who have outlined clear proposals for taking a select number of our units into the top 10% rankings. We can make this happen by growing significantly and selectively, because of the Discovery Theme cash and our own sound budget situation. My personal thanks to Marie Mead for her firm hand on the financial tiller and to all the financial, HR, administrative and technical staff in our college who contribute to our stable condition. If together we prioritize our investments in the very best faculty, staff and infrastructure, in alignment with the Discovery Themes, then together we can garner further investments from the Center.
We have an amazing opportunity. As you know, the university has created cash through the generation of hundred-year bonds and the leasing of our parking facilities. Several hundred million dollars will be used to hire several hundred new faculty, over and above those we would normally replace. To benefit from this cash, we have to bring our own cash to the table. And we have cash – and the university knows it. Individual faculty have cash, departments have cash, research centers and institutes have cash and the college has cash. That cash is hard earned through fiscal prudence, careful investments and solid policies governing research and teaching responsibilities. I know that much of that cash is already committed for individual faculty, department, center, institute and college priorities. However, the landscape has changed dramatically and all former priorities need to be re-examined.
Let me draw an analogy. We are facing our own fiscal cliff. However, it’s not one we can fall off, it’s one we must climb! We have a once-in-a lifetime chance to climb this cliff and gain access to the possibility of maybe a hundred new faculty positions in the next several years. If the units bring their crampons, the faculty bring their pitons and the college brings its ropes, then together we can all climb the cliff. Or we can collectively choose to hold onto our crampons and pitons and ropes because we have some other plans for them. Then we will not be able to climb the cliff. The choice we face could not be clearer.
On a personal note, as you may know, I have been asked to take on two more leadership roles: Executive Dean of the Professional Colleges and co-leader of the Energy and Environment Discovery Theme. Through these positions the College of Engineering gains both visibility and influence at the university level. By all of us working together, in ways such as I have just described, we can as a college make the most of these opportunities.
Unfortunately, there are still the same number of hours in the day as there were before I was appointed to theses positions. Therefore, I have asked my leadership team to take on more responsibilities. Being the great team that they are, they have all stepped forward. So I will now step aside and let the Associate Deans talk more on their burgeoning areas of responsibility.
Thank you for listening. There will be time for questions at the end of the presentations.