SEAS seeks more funding

The School of Engineering and Applied Science needs new facilities so that it can attract more students and cover its overhead costs, according to a year-long review released last week.

“One of our top priorities and major finding of the commission was that a new science and education complex would increase enrollment by attracting more students,” said Donald Lehman, executive vice president for academic affairs.

Lehman and Timothy Tong, the dean of the engineering school who will retire at the end of the year, chairs the commission. The Graduate School of Education and Human Development was also under review.

GSEHD and SEAS do not bring in enough money to support its academic endeavors. The University has been stuck with funding the schools through its operating budget.

“The purpose of the report was to move both of these programs towards a higher level of academic excellence,” Lehman said. “This requires constantly working on improvement, but the reports were also generated out of concern for the financial wellbeing of the schools.”

Professors involved with the review said providing more incentives for faculty to do research could help SEAS and GSEHD get more grants.

“SEAS has experienced a downturn in undergraduate enrollments and in external research funding in recent years, but this downturn can be reduced if the school increases its recruitment efforts with faculty participation and makes some policy changes regarding research and scholarship,” said commission member and chemistry professor David Ramaker.

The engineering school has been receiving fewer and fewer outside research grants in recent years, Lehman said. The school received $12.5 million in outside research funding for the past academic year.

GSEHD’s review concluded that the school should not be held responsible for its lack of profit as it does not enroll undergraduate students, a major source of tuition revenue. The school’s graduate students are often enticed to come because of the promise of large scholarships, a practice the school is responsible for that does contribute to its declining financial well-being.

Though it may be impossible for GSHED to cover its overhead costs, the commission said the school needs to increase the number of doctoral programs it offers and boost research to combat its financial troubles.

“I believe (GSEHD) has a number of strengths to build on, including national rankings that put it among the top 20 or 30 of education in the country,” said Carol Sigelman, co-chair of the GSEHD commission and associate vice president for graduate studies and academic affairs. “The findings mean work for the faculty, but stimulating work that the commission believes in will be well worth the effort.”

The two commissions – one for SEAS and one for GSHED – began their work in September 2006. The reports released to faculty members last week advise that the recommendations be implemented by 2020.

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