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Purdue’s College of Engineering is plotting its future course of growth

Mark Simons
Purdue University

A five-year plan for the College of Engineering at Purdue includes hiring more faculty and staff who are women and minorities. That’s one part of the effort to add 107 professors.

Leah Jamieson, the John Edwardson Dean of Engineering, says women are nearly 16% of the college’s faculty now, while under-represented minorities are 7% of the total. She says most of this year will be spent developing a strategy for hiring.

"What do we want the College of Engineering to be? Where do we want our areas of strengths to be? What do we want to be known for?" she asks. "This will be an incredibly attractive place for people to think about when we're recruiting."

Jamieson says a goal of bringing in more faculty members is to increase diversity, so that will attract a more diverse group of students as well. She says some new hires will be through the provost’s cluster hiring program, which involves interdisciplinary majors.

The college’s strategic plan projects nearly 700 more undergraduate and up to 800 additional graduate students. Jamieson says that follows the student growth trend, but really addresses the need for more professors.

"Some of the things we would like to try, where you'd like to try them in a small class, because they're experimental, but activities that are more hands-on, more small group learning, some of the experiential education things are simply harder to take on when you are at or over capacity."

The cost of hiring and space needs will be funded with some existing dollars and a five-year, $135 million fundraising effort.

Jamieson says that has not officially begun, but adds that the development effort never really stops.

"We're always working to grow our scholarships and fellowships and professorships, because they're at the heart of recruiting and retaining the best people."

The plan hopes to address what industry wants out of recent engineering graduates. Jamieson says students must have strong technical skills, but also great experience in teamwork, leadership and communication, but also an understanding of engineering's role in the economy and society.

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