TechDean Blog

Transformation update for January 2015

By nearly every metric the College of Technology is doing very well. Undergraduate enrollment is up after nearly a decade of decline, the quality of our fall admits is the highest ever, research awards were the highest ever, cash donations to the college continue to grow, globalization efforts are at their highest level of activity ever, diversity of our faculty and students is increasing and professional graduate programs continue to grow at a rapid pace. The seeds of change we sowed over the last few years are slowly beginning to show great promise.

A few very extraordinary things have also come to pass over the last 18 months.

  • Our college was selected for one of the Purdue Moves initiatives.
  • The college faculty senate approved a competency-based degree program, one of the first undergraduate programs at a public research university in the nation.
  • The Purdue Move initiative brought with it a 30% increase in our base budget

Individually, each of these three successes is of great significance and can be viewed as the fertilizer we need to continue our growth and prominence as a college. Collectively, they provide the foundation we need not only to grow but also to set the college on a path that will lead to a transformation of extraordinary breadth and depth. We are literally defining the 21st century technologist and redefining the learning experience of college students in the nation.

The president, provost, and Board of Trustees are looking to us for leadership to create a different higher education model for learning and teaching. Before winter commencement, one of the board members approached me and implored us to continue our quest to make the changes necessary to achieve the vision we articulated in the Purdue Moves proposal. He asked if we had enough resources and offered to help in any way possible. You all heard the president address the faculty and staff last fall  stating unequivocally his support for us and that our Purdue Move was the most significant and important under his administration. To paraphrase an email I received from the President last fall: We have to make this work.

In addition to our colleagues at Purdue, the eyes of the nation are looking to us as trailblazers. We all must realize this opportunity is bigger than all of us. We are doing this for the future of the College of Technology, to bring national recognition to Purdue for being an innovator in higher education, to serve the wishes of the Board of Trustees and president who want Purdue to rise to the top as a public university. Most important, we are doing this for our students, industry and our nation’s future.

We have an opportunity that very few have in life: to make a real difference.

Here are a few details on what you can expect over the next year:

  1. I have employed the services of Ed Morrison who is in Purdue’s Center for Regional Development. Strategic Doing will become the methodology that we will employ to execute on our vision.
  2. I have asked Dave Goldberg, who some of you know, to assist with an intense faculty and staff development program over the next year to begin the deep personal and cultural changes necessary for the transformation of the college. The program is modeled after one that he very successfully led at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil.
  3. Faculty from two departments have agreed to “go all in” with the Polytechnic transformation in their respective departments, and I want to thank Pat Connolly and Bryan Hubbard for their leadership and insight. The departments of Computer Graphics Technology and Building Construction Management will begin the transformation process this spring, and I will be working directly with them on this effort. I have created an incentive structure to reward their efforts, and other departments are invited to meet with me to discuss “going all in.”
  4. I will be creating open office hours every week, unless traveling, for two hours to increase efforts to communicate with everyone. Janet Ebershoff will send the exact hours to all faculty, staff and students the week prior to their scheduling. This is an effort to be more accessible and increase my ability to clearly communicate the vision for the college.

Over the last few years we have built a strong foundation to take maximum advantage of the opportunities presented through the Purdue Move and the increase in resources to fund our efforts. Individually and collectively we will all benefit from this extraordinary opportunity.

I wish you the best in the new year and urge you to find ways to take an active role in the transformation of the college.