State of the College Address
Address to the College Faculty and Staff
presented by Dean David B. Williams
April 18, 2017
On November 28, 2017, students, faculty and staff in our college were at the center of an unprecedented tragedy on campus, when a disturbed individual drove a car and wielded a machete at a group of people who were predominantly from Engineering. Several of the group were injured before the attacker was shot dead, which occurred in view of many individuals in our college. I would like to thank the first responders, especially officer Alan Horujko for his bravery and swift decision-making. I would also like to acknowledge our college leadership team, especially HR, student affairs and many of the support groups that came together to assist those who suffered, physically, mentally and emotionally from this tragic affair. We understand that events like these can be transformative for individuals and trust that those of you who were affected and those who continue to feel the effects know that those resources are still at your disposal.
We do not let terrible events like this define us, but rather we are defined by how we respond and rise to the challenge. We celebrate the resilience of our faculty, staff and students and their ability to rebound, pick themselves up and continue to move the college forward.
As my seventh year as dean begins, we are at a pivotal moment in our college’s history. We have experienced unprecedented growth in faculty and staff, and we are managing unprecedented numbers of ever-higher quality and more diverse students. We’re expending more money than ever on research and raising more funds than any other academic unit on campus. For these accomplishments and for all that everyone in the college does to make us so successful, I thank you.
I’d like to open my address by putting all of this growth in the context of the college’s infrastructure. As you all know, space is the final frontier… the resource that we never have enough of and yet the one to which we cling when all sensible usage of that space stopped years ago. So space is indeed a paradox. The college has added 57,000 square feet of assignable space this year, and we are responsible for (i.e., we pay for) 1.1 million square feet overall.
Let me remind you what has happened over the last five or so years in terms of new construction and renovation: the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry (CBEC) Building, the Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS), our ElectroScience Laboratory, the façade work on Bolz Hall, our improvements in Information Technology offices, the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) and the Spine Research Institute (SRI).
Let me also share with you what is underway at present, including enhancements at The Ohio State University: the first phase of development at the Transportation Research Center (TRC), planning for the Materials Corridor I (Koffolt and Fontana Halls) and the ongoing work at Pomerene Hall as the permanent home for Data Analytics.
I’d also like to add what is in the pipeline: Materials Corridor II (McQuigg and Watts Halls), hangar/industry partnerships land leases at the university airport, the second phase of improvements at TRC and planning for Bevis Hall, BRT II, Framework 2.0 interdisciplinary Research Building, Energy Research Center, and the 4th floor of Baker Systems Engineering.
I would encourage you to see new space as an opportunity to go where the investment is. The time for individual units to occupy one building is long gone. Several of our units are already in two or more zip codes. Let me state that if you feel your space is inadequate in some way, find ways to partner with colleagues in those areas which are growing. Such an extraordinary set of infrastructure projects requires that we work differently to stay on top of the multiple challenges. Historically, space has been under the aegis of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Administration. That combined title and responsibility made sense when we were hiring a few faculty each year and building or renovating one or two smaller areas of the college. This arrangement no longer makes sense when we are hiring dozens of faculty and building or rebuilding multiple facilities. We have brought on Professor Mike Hagenberger, a construction engineer out of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering, as Assistant Dean for Facilities Planning and Management. Mike will bring academic input and construction knowledge to help our facilities coordinator Mark Scott. In the future, the Associate Dean will concentrate on Academic Affairs: faculty hiring, retention, tenure and promotion.
Let me continue on this theme of personnel and leadership. Following in a long line of college leaders who have moved up within the university and elsewhere, I would note the recent appointment of former Associate Dean Jennifer Evans Cowley to be the Provost at the University of North Texas, the recent appointment of Professor John Volakis as Dean of the College of Engineering at Florida International University and the promotion of Associate Dean for Research Randy Moses to Senior Associate Vice President for Research here at Ohio State. We are actively seeking a new ADR, and I hope to announce that decision shortly.
I also note the appointment of Professor Farhang Pourboghrat as Chair of Integrated Systems Engineering, and I thank outgoing Chair Phil Smith for transforming that unit from a group of factions to an integrated department. I wish Phil all the best in his retirement. Biomedical Engineering Professor Rich Hart, the éminence grise among our chairs, has indicated he wishes to step down at the end of the next academic year, and we are well on the way to appointing a replacement chair for Rich, who almost single-handedly led the growth of BME from a small department to one in excess of 20 faculty with a growing student body and academic reputation. Mike Cadwell has agreed to continue to lead Knowlton School of Architecture for another four years. Xiaodong Zhang will be stepping down as leader of Computer Science and Engineering at the end of next academic year, and we are just starting the process of seeking a replacement.
So, as always, time and change will surely show…..
We have 51 faculty searches underway or completed this academic year. This is a number worth repeating! Of course this is going to be a cake walk after the 60 searches we had last year…!
If the searches produce the expected number (~30) of new faculty, we will have hired over 100 new professors in the last three recruiting cycles. Our college is slowly becoming a 21st century organization, and we have to ensure that our operation, our organization and our processes are similarly 21st century. Tenure-track faculty will be younger, more diverse and well over 300, on track to 340. Coupled with ongoing growth in research and clinical faculty, our professorial ranks will soon be well over 350, with 400 in sight over the next couple of years. Hats off to Rudy Buchheit, all of our unit leaders, search committee members, new faculty mentors, business managers and the college staff (in particular Laura Cotton and Patti Chrisenberry), who are responsible for the smooth operations behind all the superficial chaos of such an extraordinary effort.
Promotion and Tenure
As I just mentioned, our internal processes should be 21st century, and at the last faculty meeting we approved unanimously a new Pattern of Administration. The new PoA seriously re-organizes the responsibilities of the college administration in terms of assigning professional business leadership to manage budgets and fiscal matters, professional HR leaders to handle the plethora of issues always present when such a large group of human beings interact. Today, Rudy will present to you an updated set of Promotion & Tenure criteria that will continue to change the expectations that we place on our faculty to be leaders now and in the future.
In past years we have taken the lead in the university in emphasizing the appropriate role of invention disclosures, patents and licensing revenue and research funding from sources beyond the traditional federal agencies. Today we acknowledge that research and scholarship is a much more collegiate endeavor, and the old views of the primacy of the single-author papers and single-PI grants are long gone. Henceforth, we will encourage and reward team efforts, multi-author papers and multi-author research proposals and grants as we have historically done with single-author efforts. These changes were unanimously approved by all of the unit leaders in last week’s College Executive Committee meeting, and I ask that the college faculty approve those changes after this address and then modify their own P&T documents to reflect the century in which we live.
Just recently, 26 of our faculty earned promotion – congratulations, this is a record! Half of our assistant professor candidates for promotion and tenure were elevated before the mandatory deadline of year six. We will continue to focus on our rising stars and commit to them at the appropriate time in their career, rather than waiting for the six years to pass, just because that was the norm in the 20th century.
I would like to thank all of our unit leaders, the P&T committees in the units and in the college, along with Sherri Nash on the college staff. It is you as much as the candidates who are responsible for this record class of promotions.
We are getting ready for ABET accreditation in the fall, and David Tomasko and his team are on top of this. Architecture and Landscape Architecture breezed through their respective accreditation visits this past year, with high commendations from their visiting accreditation teams. I’d like to call out Landscape Architecture, which was the #2 ranked undergraduate program in the country according to the recent Design Intelligence survey of deans, which highlighted its “faculty focus on design, critical thinking, and leadership.” There’s a challenge for all the other units as we continue to plan for ABET and for our revised strategic plans!
I should note that our strategic plan ensures that this faculty growth is not spread uniformly across the college but focuses more narrowly on areas that align with the college strengths, the university’s strategic plan and the economic development priorities of the State of Ohio. The last 70 faculty we have hired have been in the general areas of energy and sustainability, materials and manufacturing, mobility and transportation (on the ground, in the air and in outer space). Crossing all these areas are investments in sensing systems and data generation and analysis.
Of these 70 recent faculty hires, 46% are women and diverse men. While that is progress on a local scale, the predominance of male faculty in our ranks is such that the percentage of women faculty increased only from 20.1% in 2015 to 21.1% in 2016. That’s right, we hired 46% women last year and the total percentage increase by only ~1%. More than half our units have 20% or fewer women faculty. So we must continue to redouble our efforts so that our faculty reflects our student body (almost 24% women across the college), building of course up to the almost 50% women at Ohio State as a whole. The situation is even more parlous in terms of racial/ethnic diversity, and while we have increased the number of African-American and Hispanic candidates among our faculty and staff, translating interviews into hires continues to be a challenge.
Donnie Perkins and his staff, partnering with college leadership, have done a great job in raising awareness of diversity, illustrated most powerfully by our highlighting the movie and novel Hidden Figures regarding the role of African-American women as computers for NASA. All of our many search committee members have learned to recognize the challenges of implicit bias. It is time for that learning to be translated into action, delivering an even more diverse class of faculty in coming years.
We will continue to expect our white male leadership to take on the role as allies and advocates for diversity, and I applaud Lisa Abrams for her introduction of this concept to white male leaders among our students. We have to address this issue both from the current generation of white male leaders and future generations of white male leaders. Just remember, as white men faculty the current lack of diversity is not necessarily our fault, but it is our responsibility to change it!
Our research continues to grow. John Bair received $6.8 million to manage the Manufacturing Extension Partnership out of CDME. Mike Benzakein received $10 million from NASA for a five-year consortium supporting next generation electric motors, building on a $2 million Federal Research Network grant from the State of Ohio. Monica Cox brought in a $1 million NSF grant for her work regarding women tenure-track faculty experiences in engineering. Gerry Frankel and the Fontana Corrosion Center received $10 million from the Department of Energy for an Energy Frontier Research Center, and Giorgio Rizzoni grew the Ford Alliance program to $2 million annually. Overall research expenditures are up over 7% to $130 million. Note that the preponderance of materials, manufacturing and mobility in those research funds, reflecting our commitment to faculty and facilities in these areas.
Other research announcements of note: Bill Marras (ISE) and Len Brillson (ECE) won University Distinguished Scholar awards; Yuan Zhang (ECE) and Jacob Mendlovic won faculty and student innovator of the year awards, respectively; KSA Professor Rob Livesey was selected for a second year as one of Design Intelligence’s “30 Most Admired Educators.” KSA Professor Kay Bea Jones has been recognized as a 2017 OSU Glass Breaker as part of President Drake’s 2020 Vision for Diversity and Inclusion. Umit Ozkan became the first woman to win the American Chemical Society’s Storch Award. Yuejie Chi (ECE), Nicholas Brunelli (CE), Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop and NASA Glenn Director Janet Kavandi gave college distinguished lectures.
CEMAS became a College Center, and ESL will follow as we seek a new director. The university announced a $50 million energy research center as part of the Engie-Axium Comprehensive Energy Management Program; we will play a major role in this!
Our undergraduates continue to grow in quantity and quality, and the commitment to this is showing in the number and quality of engineering and architecture degrees. We will award over 1,800 this year – a record - and almost 740 graduate degrees, tying our record last year for graduate degrees. In total, over 2,500 Engineering and architecture degrees will be awarded this academic year. Seven of theses engineers will graduate with a global option – our largest group so far. Our student body continues to diversify; under-represented minority enrollment increased by 7.3%, and female engineers increased from 22% to almost 24%. Slow progress but at least it remains positive.
We continue to find new ways to open doors for our students, from the OHI/O Hackathon led by Arnab Nandi and others involving close to 800 students, faculty and staff, through to the “Buckeye Trek,” where Amy Thaci led six of our students to visit eight startups in the San Francisco Bay area, hosted by alumnus Mike Morrell. At least two of those students nailed job offers within a couple of weeks! We will continue to find ways to educate our students about job opportunities, both within and outside Ohio.
Our graduate student applications increased last fall, including a 9% and 24% increase in female and URM applications, respectively. Thank you La’Tonia Stiner-Jones for leading this effort. We are, however, monitoring closely a significant (>10%) decrease in international applications. La’Tonia, together with Marcello Canova (MAE), is on a university team addressing post doc and GA compensation to ensure we remain competitive.
Sadly, four of our students were taken from us prematurely, a terrible number to have to report. We recognize the lives of Yuzhen Liu (CSE), Adam Doleh (CBE), Cody Sweitzer (MSE) and Almamy Coumbassa (ECE). I thank everyone in those units and in the college office for all they did to comfort the family and friends of those students.
As the technical college on campus, we should lead in all matters technical. IT is one area where we have been wanting. Now, thanks to Marsha Henfer's skills, we have a reconstructed IT operation, a cloud-based help desk, a significantly reduced number of servers, seriously enhanced security, plans to lay fiber to the airport and also to upgrade connectivity and technical services at TRC, as part of central Ohio's Smart Corridor for autonomous vehicles along Route 33, and much more! Thank you Marsha and the team.
We are on track to create a single 40GB network and single active directory log in for the college. We continue to shut down independent networks and thus improve security. Our centralized service system has responded to almost 10,000 requests in less than a year, more efficiently and more rapidly than before. Our primary data center is in the State of Ohio Computer Center, compliant with NIST 800-171 security. Now, all our data is more secure and will be easier to access, not susceptible to slowing down due to overload of our own server capacity.
Because of the improvement in IT, our online education and professional program development continues to grow Under Bob Mick’s leadership, our Master of Global Engineering Leadership (MGEL) and Welding MS degrees rose to 18th on the US News & World Report ranking of online degrees. We have a new data analytics online certificate program with over 100 students registered.
Let me recognize Debbie Schroeder and her advancement team and their successful completion of the university’s But for Ohio State Campaign, reaching $399 million and well above our goal of $350 million. We are the single most successful fundraising college of all the university’s academic units.
Our success allowed us to recruit Chris Yates from the London School of Economics via USC, Caltech and Stanford. Under his leadership we are still ahead of last year's record fundraising level, and on track to exceed our goal of $50 million this academic year. We will invest in more development, communications and alumni staff to reach our goal of doubling the average annual fundraising to $100 million. We will focus on fundraising for the new Materials Corridor (phases 1 & 2) and the Austin E. Knowlton Terminal and Flight Education Center at The Ohio State University Airport.
The fiscal future
All the achievements I’ve just recited, and indeed everything we do, is only possible because we have a sound fiscal operation with a financial bottom line that is always in the black at the end of each year. Our annual budget is now close to $240 million, which means we spend over $900,000 every working day. Under Marie Mead's direction, the college, the university and the Board of Trustees have identified financial strategies to ensure continuing growth of the engineering faculty over the next five years. We are doing this in order to reduce the high student/faculty ratio. While we increased our number of faculty significantly, the large undergraduate first-year class meant that our student/faculty ration was not reduced. The university is well aware of this and will continue to support our faculty and staff growth as we seek to manage our undergraduate numbers.
In all cases, unit strategic plans that commit to joint appointments, both across engineering units and across colleges, will be encouraged. Units with strong records of attracting and retaining diverse faculty will likewise see the opportunity to continue such growth. A specific goal for diverse cross-unit and cross-college appointments will be part of the strategic plan, which is currently on hold at the college level as the university completes its plan.
As the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty increase, the expectations of increased research expenditures will grow. Setting and meeting goals for research expenditures and PhD students per faculty member will be integrated into the new strategic plans of both the college and individual units.
Faculty growth will not be limited to tenure/tenure-track appointments. We will grow the clinical/professor-of-practice ranks to the maximum permissible. Research professors and project managers will become integral members of all the college’s leading research centers and institutes, especially those benefiting from the Discovery Themes. I want to stress that we faculty can only achieve our full potential working with staff who bring talents that we do not have. A coordinated increase in staff will accompany any faculty increase.
So the next five years should see an unprecedented investment in the college. This opportunity has come because of the commitment of all our faculty and staff to manage the huge enrollment increases. I thank you and the leadership of all our units. President Drake and Provost McPheron have recognized that we continue to provide the most accessible and affordable engineering education in the Big Ten, even as the excellence of our students has grown to compete with the very best in the Big Ten.
Last year, I was able to announce at this address that Columbus was selected as one of only seven communities out of 78 applicants to be a finalist in the Department of Transportation’s $50 million Smart City competition. As you now know, we won, and the matching funds to that $50 million now exceed $300 million. Carla Bailo and her team continue to ensure Ohio State and Engineering are front and center in this project, with over 60 of our faculty involved. We won Smart Columbus because of the presence of TRC, and as you will have heard, the university, the state and the college recently announced a combined $69 million investment in new facilities there. Currently, four faculty and their graduate students are engaged at TRC in vehicle systems and biomechanics. In just a few months, two additional faculty and their students will begin utilizing the new facilities at TRC, including cybersecurity interests and connected and autonomous vehicle research. This will be enhanced by serious broadband connectivity to permit faculty to teach from there and for students to take their classes out there.
Some more announcements about new research and testing facilities at TRC:
- Multi-Purpose Center (more than 16,000 square feet; capacity of over 300 people)
- Resident Customer Complex (more than 28,000 square feet; 9 bays)
- SMART Center Phase 1 (over 540 acres)
- World’s longest flexible dynamic platform
- World’s largest mobility test intersection
- World’s largest SMART center located within a full-service proving ground
Total investment so far is $77 million, with $20 million from the State of Ohio and $49 million from the university and the college committed over the next five years. In addition, federal, state and local agencies have combined to invest $12 million in converting Route 33 to a smart corridor enabling complete vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication – an essential part of an autonomous mobility plan.
TRC is responsible for over 30% of the college’s annual research expenditures. Its success will drive our research success – which is why we have decided to commit so much to its success and why we will continue to grow our presence at TRC and our partnerships with Honda. Stay tuned for even larger investments in TRC to be announced in the near future.
Let me note that our future is amazingly bright. This is happening because of the work that all of you – our faculty and staff – have done to recruit, retain, educate and graduate the university's finest and most highly-qualified student body. And you have done it without it complaint, you have knuckled down and managed our unprecedented growth in true engineering fashion, even as we operated without concomitant increases in space and faculty support. All of that is changing as you can see from the slides behind me. These slides will look different the next time we talk, and I look forward to even more amazing thing to happen this coming year. Thank you for all the support you have given me and the college leadership team.
Address to the College Faculty and Staff
presented by Dean David B. Williams
April 18, 2016
A bit of history
I’m happy to report that 10 days ago, the Ohio State Board of Trustees appointed me as Dean for another five year term. This reappointment was only possible because of the tremendous support that I have received from so many of you, the faculty and staff of the best college in the university.
Precisely five years ago today I walked into Hitchcock Hall for the first time and met with the college leadership team. I was fresh from a discussion with then-provost Joseph Alutto, and his message to me was "David, the engineering college is a set of fiefdoms. I want you to transform it into a United Kingdom." I was not sure what Joe meant until I first entered the college conference room and saw the pictures of past deans. I realized that there had been 21 deans in 140 years, so the average tenure was just over six years. If I lasted more than about three years, I'd be the longest serving dean since Don Glower was appointed in 1976 – which I am. When you have leadership turnover like that, it is impossible to develop strategies because priorities change with leaders. Also, lasting partnerships within and without the college do not have time to form. Consequently, the college had no visibility at the university level, was left out of major strategic discussions and our alumni were not engaged.
So what Joe was really asking was that I bring stability to the college, create the best leadership team, implement a strategic plan, involve the college with university leadership and build our advancement operation. We have done all of these, and now it’s time to build on the strengths we have developed.
Let me say a few words about my philosophy of academic leadership. When I started, it soon became clear that a predominant view of the role of a Chair or Director was to solve all the problems of the faculty within their unit. Understandably, very few people really wanted these jobs. Likewise, many chairs thought the dean was the solution to (and possibly the cause of) all their problems. This view perhaps explains the rapid turnover in deans. So I set about overthrowing these paradigms.
In the last five years, every member of the college’s executive committee has been appointed or reappointed. Our unit leaders, to a person, are among the best scholars in the college. They belie the common wisdom that becoming a chair/director is the grave of scholarly ambitions. On the contrary, I note:
- Dorota Brzezinska's presidency of the Institute of Navigation and Fellowship of the Royal Institute of Navigation
- Mike Cadwell's recent election to Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects
- Rich Hart's presidency of the national BME Society
- Joel Johnson’s leading role NASA’s research on Cubesats
- Ahmet Selamet’s major research on noise pollution
- Scott Shearer’s national role in UAS’s for precision agriculture
- Phil Smith's skills in helping the nation run our National Airspace System
- Seth Young’s burgeoning reputation among FAA leaders
- Xiaodong Zhang's Google Scholar h-index of 52
I have every confidence that our recent chair appointees, Andre Palmer and Peter Anderson, will continue to build their already powerful academic reputations in transfusion medicine and materials modeling, respectively, as they lead CBE and MSE. I would also note the comparable scholarly achievements of our academic Associate Deans whose average h-indices are approximately 40.
So, let me be very clear: college leadership is the door to, not the grave of, scholarly greatness.
Furthermore, some of our very best have risen to even higher leadership roles in the university. Let me call out Jennifer Evans Cowley, now vice provost for capital planning, Dan Kramer, AVP for research and Director of ILO and Matt McNair, VP for economic and corporate engagement. Also let me remind you of the important roles that Marie Mead is taking with Senate Fiscal and other university business committees, the responsibility David Tomasko has in driving the data analytics degree program, the role that Randy Moses plays in the development of the university’s research business development operation, the extraordinary speed with which Donnie Perkins has been embraced as a senior diversity leader at Ohio State and Marsha Henfer’s already high visibility with the CIO’s office.
Also, I thank all our unit leaders for their willingness to partner across the university in joint appointments, in supporting their faculty in joint research and their willingness to facilitate spousal hires with many different colleges. All of these actions ensure that the college is seen across the university as a partner and a leader, not just in the academic quality of our students and our faculty, but in the extraordinary skills of our staff members and the collaborative nature of our chairs and directors. The SVPs of advancement, research, business and finance, legal, political affairs, administration & planning and HR are all strong supporters of our strategic plan and thus help to ensure that our plans are supported at the highest levels of the university.
This spirit of partnering extends deeply into the college’s ranks, exemplified by many of our young professors:
- Jeff Bielicki is building bridges to the John Glenn College
- Jim Gregory is the statewide leader of UAS research, emphasizing a key partnership with Sinclair Community College
- Deborah Grzybowski is printing realistic 3-D models of animal cells
- Karen Moore has an Amazon.com #1 Best Seller, Graphic Design for Architects
- Arnab Nandi has transformed the Hackathon from a local project to a university-wide operation of > 1000 students, opening the door to transformations in career services, in industry liaisons and in hands-on education
- Jonathon Song is working with The James to understand what determines blood to tumors
- Jessica Winter demonstrated that you can be a recognized entrepreneur and still sail through promotion and tenure
These and many other great young faculty are working in very non-traditional ways – and they are the future of this college. Engineering is the leaven in the bread of Ohio State. We will help the health sciences address the big challenges facing our aging population. We will help our college of agriculture to continue to feed the world – from Franklin County to fields of India. We will start more and better small companies and continue to help the large engineering companies to refine their products
In other partnerships, CSE and the Moritz College of Law just announced the hiring of Bryan Choi - our first joint appointment in cyberlaw. We are planning a large increase in joint appointments with the Fisher College. We will copy their highly successful online graduate and professional courses. Bob Mick continues to grow our own programs and was rewarded for his efforts when our MGEL program was ranked #12 in the top 50 online engineering management programs. The first three graduates from MGEL will receive their degrees this summer.
Donnie Perkins has seized the reins of our diversity operation, organized a full external review, coordinated the submission of all the unit’s diversity plans to the provost, instituted this year as the College’s Year of Diversity, reconstructed the hitherto separate efforts of WIE and MEP and facilitated the appointments of Andre Palmer, La’Tonia Steiner Jones and Monica Cox. These three are the vanguard of the transformation of the racial and gender diversity of our faculty leadership. And this all happened during Donnie’s first year.
Let me also call out Rudy Buchheit for his unflagging leadership in growing the diversity of the faculty and training our white male leaders to understand how we can, and we must be, advocates for diversity. A diverse faculty brings diverse solution to diverse problems. That, too, is the future of engineering.
I want to recognize La'Tonia Steiner Jones, the first African-American assistant dean in our history. She is focused on the diversity of our graduate student body and is also our first advocate for post-doctoral research associates. Among many achievements, La'Tonia garnered 94 years of fellowship support from the Graduate School and doubled the number of diverse students who received graduate enrichment awards this year.
Let me remind you all of the forthcoming NAE workshop on May 3, co-hosted by the college and Battelle, addressing the need for a diverse STEM workforce for the future. Speakers include France Cordova, director of NSF, CD Mote, president of the NAE, President Drake, major general Suzanne Vautrinot, former commander, US Air Force cyber and network operations, Randy Weingarten, president of the 1.6 million-strong American Federation of Teachers, our own William White, engineering alumnus, former Buckeyes football captain, NFL player, owner of a Super Bowl ring and vice president of Project Lead the Way. This promises to be an extraordinary gathering of diverse leaders – again note Tuesday May 3 and register today.
Our research continues to grow. Manufacturing in CDME received a $6.8M Department of Commerce award, the SIM center grew from zero to $3.5M/year in less than 2 years, CEGE received $2.4M from The Ohio Third Frontier and MSE $3.8M from LIFT. Awards are up by 32% last year even as proposals only increased 17%. On the broader playing field, Columbus was selected as one of only seven communities out of 75 applicants to be a finalist in the Department of Transportation’s $60M Smart Cities competition. Within a month we will know if we are successful. Whatever happens, I acknowledge Carla Bailo's leadership in putting this proposal together along with the writing skills of Ruth Ann Hendrickson’s Proposal Development Center. I also wish to call out Marty Kress and Mike Benzakein for their success in shepherding the State’s $250M Federal Research Network program. Marty also leads the university’s recently approved Global Water Institute. Note that all of these successes are because our faculty and staff have worked together, bringing different skills to address the big problems. Research is a full-contact sport, and faculty and staff bring different contacts to the table. We both need each other and we both need to respect the skills that each other has. A Ph.D. opens certain doors, and a project manager opens others. We need to open all doors to be successful in research.
As the technical college on campus, we should lead in all matters technical. IT is one area where we have been wanting. Now, thanks to Marsha Henfer's skills and efforts, we have a reconstructed our IT operations, instituted a cloud-based help desk, significantly reduced the number of servers we have, dramatically enhanced our security, began planning to lay fiber to the airport and also upgrade the technical services at TRC as part of central Ohio's Smart Corridor for autonomous vehicles along Route 33, and much more. We appreciate your work, Marsha.
Let me call out Debbie Schroeder and her advancement team. We are still ahead of last year's record fundraising level, even as she operates with a much-reduced team while we search for former Chief Advancement Officer Matt McNair’s replacement. Despite having only two active development officers (down from 10) for most of this year, we are still ahead of last year’s efforts. This is simply extraordinary.
Our undergraduates continue to grow in quality and quantity, and we now compete with University of Michigan, University of Illinois and Purdue for the best freshman class in the Big 10. David Tomasko and his team lead our recruitment and retention efforts, and I thank all of you who have worked to manage the extraordinary increase in student numbers over the last five years. Additional assistance is coming as you will hear soon.
Our student teams won the first year of the new EcoCar competition, having won the national a year ago. Our flight team was recognized as the best collegiate aviation program nationwide. Our students continue to develop an interest in international programs, and around 70 of them spent spring break in places as diverse as Haiti, Honduras, Ghana and the U.K. Don Hempson has been untiring in his efforts to grow international programs and degrees which most units now have.
By the way, we awarded more than 2,200 engineering degrees last year, with an average starting salary of $61,000 with a bachelor’s degree! Typically, 50% of those new alumni stay in Ohio to help drive our regional economy while 50% work in United States and around the world, spreading Buckeye culture to all four corners. I encourage you all to wear your OSU pins whenever you travel. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "Go Bucks!" or similar words in airports, on the Hill in D.C., at breakfast in Shanghai, or during dinner in Sao Paolo. There are 60,000 engineering alumni out there. The more we stay in touch, the more they will support the college.
Rudy Buchheit is in the thick of helping you all to hire up to 52 new professors this academic year. Added to the 35 new professors last year, we will have had a turnover of close to a 25% of the college in just two years – and over 33% in the last five. And we are just beginning, as you will now learn.
Usually I lead these presentations with an acknowledgment of Marie Mead's fiscal acumen, for which she is recognized across the university. All the achievements I’ve just recited and indeed everything we do is only possible because we have a sound fiscal operation with a financial bottom line that is always in the black at the end of each year. I have left my recognition of Marie until last this time because of all she and her staff have done to ensure that the next five years will be even more successful than the past five. Let me continue along the theme of faculty growth. New faculty will be central to our new strategic plan, which we will initiate over the summer.
Under Marie's direction, the college, the university and the Board of Trustees have identified financial strategies that are being evaluated to ensure continuing growth of the engineering faculty over the next five years. We are doing this in order to reduce the very high student/faculty ratio.
Broadly speaking, units that have been carrying very high student/faculty ratios for many years will be able to plan significant growth of all faculty. Units well-aligned with the college's strategic plan can also expect to see faculty growth.
In all cases, unit strategic plans that commit to joint appointments, both across engineering units and across colleges, will be encouraged. Units with strong records of attracting and retaining diverse faculty will likewise see the opportunity to continue such growth. A specific goal for diverse cross-unit and cross-college appointments will be part of the strategic plan.
As the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty increase, the expectations of increased research expenditures will grow. Setting and meeting goals for research expenditures and Ph.D. students/faculty member will be integrated into the new strategic plans of both the college and individual units.
Faculty growth will not be limited to tenure/tenure-track appointments. We will grow the clinical/professor-of-practice ranks to the maximum permissible. Research professors and project managers will become integral members of all the college’s leading research centers and institutes, especially those benefiting from the Discovery Themes. I want to stress that we faculty can only achieve our full potential working with staff who bring talents that we do not have. So a coordinated increase in staff will accompany any faculty increase.
The next five years should see an unprecedented investment in the college by the university. This opportunity has come because of the commitment of all our faculty and staff to manage the huge enrollment increases. I thank you and the leadership of all our units. President Drake and interim provost McPheron have recognized that we continue to provide the most accessible and affordable engineering education in the Big 10, even as the excellence of our students has grown to compete with the very best in the Big 10.
Some Big Opportunities
So now we can think big and think differently. With the creation of the Engineering Education Department it is time to examine critically the way we teach our students. With EED we can for the first time evaluate the effectiveness of all our teaching and all the different approaches that we use. Almost all our faculty, myself included, have had effectively zero training in how to teach and how to assess our impact beyond student evaluations. What we have picked up has been more via osmosis than through professional education of ourselves. This is about to change. I look forward to all units developing plans to incorporate professional teaching evaluations, guided by EED, into their operations, into their tenure and promotion criteria and interviewing processes so we can truly claim to offer the very best engineering education, for the very best value
I have emphasized partnerships across colleges and note that, with the impending naming of the Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy, we will soon have multiple joint faculty appointments with the Glenn College. Such faculty will help us develop joint degree programs creating the new field of engineering policy. The future of engineering is to define the policies that come out of D.C. and the Statehouse rather than react to someone else’s policies. To this end, I acknowledge Bharat Bushan and J-C Zhao, two faculty who have committed their time to learn how D.C. works. I look for more effective D.C. presence building on our partnerships with the Glenn College.
We have the opportunity to define specific areas of academic scholarly and research excellence, building on investments in previous years. So we will emphasize:
- Partnerships across units and colleges including health sciences, public affairs, law, business and natural science
- Mobility, from autonomous to manufacturing
- Translational data analytics, not just in our research but in our daily operations – from advancement and fundraising through admissions and alumni data bases
- We will build on the E&E Discovery Theme, broadening it to encompass high performance electronics, thus positioning the college to leverage the university's planned comprehensive energy management process
At the same Board of Trustees meeting last week, it was announced that we will receive almost $27M from the state of Ohio to renovate Koffolt Fontana as the first phase of the advanced materials corridor, bringing BME back to main campus in what will be a transformed building. You will not recognize that aging building when it is completed. I thank Rudy for shepherding this complex initiative through to the Board, as well as our former colleague Jennifer, now in Bricker Hall.
When you have to decide where to invest, you look for opportunities to set yourself apart from your peers, to create high profile operations with which others cannot compete. Two under-utilized and under-appreciated facilities that are respectively rare and unique among research universities will be at the core of new building and faculty investments: Don Scott Field and the Transportation Research Center.
When you next get out to the OSU Airport, you will see ground being broken for new hangars. This is the first investment in that facility in over 30 years. There we seek to build the nation’s best aviation program, Ohio's biggest aviation and aerospace research park and continue to operate one of the nation’s few general airports of national importance. Thank you to Seth Young and Doug Hammon for your leadership going forward. When we couple leading aerospace and aviation research and education we can attract industry and enhance regional economic development.
We will invest in the Transportation Research Center to transform the nation’s largest independent proving grounds into the world's largest. We plan to build new classrooms and labs onsite and hire faculty who will be stationed there. We will build a strong student presence there. Stay tuned for future announcements of new major investments in as we put the “research” back into TRC. By way of comparison TRC operates at about $35M/year – which goes to the bottom line of our research expenditures. IDIADA, the leading European independent proving ground, operates at $180M/year. There is no better opportunity to grow our research bottom line by tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars than at TRC.
Growing faculty, staff and infrastructure will need an ever-growing advancement operation. While our current campaign is not yet finished, we are planning ahead and will spend the next five years in full fundraising mode. In the last five years, I have met perhaps 3000 of our alumni. That only leaves 57,000 to go in the next five years. Lots of opportunities to be explored!
Let me end where I started – with leadership. We will be putting in place a faculty fellows program to give leadership training to the next generation of younger faculty and staff who have shown leadership skills. This is so that future chairs, and directors, will come from a cadre of individuals with appropriate training, rather than our typical approach of twisting the arms of whomever happens to be next in line.
In conclusion, let me note that our future is amazingly bright. This is all happening because of the work that all of you - our faculty and staff - have done to recruit, retain, educate and graduate the university's finest and most highly-qualified student body. And you have done it without it complaint, you have knuckled down and managed our unprecedented growth in true engineering fashion, even as we operated without concomitant increases in space and faculty support. All of that is about to change. Hold onto your hats as we embark on the next five years of growing space, faculty and staff. You will not recognize this college in five years!