In the academic world, we usually think of the start of the school year as September, after Labor Day. But at YSU, we get started a bit earlier than that. In fact, the beginning of the semester is right around the corner. Students are arriving on campus, the faculty are coming back from wherever their summer travels have taken them, and everyone is getting fully geared up for the start of a new school year. So, I thought I would use this month’s column to share some welcomes and preview the upcoming year.
First and foremost, I want to welcome our new President, Dr. Randy Dunn, to YSU. Dr. Dunn arrived in mid-July and has spent the last month making his way around campus trying to meet every person associated with YSU. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Pres. Dunn several times now, and have been more and more impressed each time I do. He has passion and vision, an understanding of YSU’s position in the community, and the ability to synthesize ideas taken from various perspectives. I am optimistic about the future for YSU.
During the summer, we added two new chairs. Prof. Angela Spalsbury has been selected as the new chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, replacing long-time chair Nate Ritchey who is now the Dean of Science and Health Professions at Edinboro State. Prof. Carol Lamb has assumed the role of Interim Director in Engineering Technology after the untimely passing of David Kurtanich. Outside the College, Sal Sanders from the College of Health and Human Services has taken over the role of Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, and our own Scott Martin is now Associate Dean for Research. These new leaders will bring new ideas and vision to these critical University positions.
We were fortunate to be able to hire about a dozen new faculty for the STEM College this year, as well. That includes nine tenure-track folks, and several term positions. All of them look to be outstanding individuals who will advance the college. Included in this group are several who will play a critical role in the success of our PhD in Materials Science and Engineering and forge greater ties with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Others will enhance our efforts in natural gas resources, while others will begin to address our critical needs in computer science and information technology. And in each case, there is a passion for teaching, a commitment to research and scholarship, and recognition of the college role in economic development. This new group of faculty represents the largest single increase in the STEM College faculty during my time as Dean; I am truly excited about the opportunities that they will bring to our students.
Finally, speaking of students, I want to welcome all of the returning students back to campus, and all of the new students into our community. We have some tremendous new and continuing opportunities for all of you over the next nine months. Our STEM Leadership Society will have its first graduates this year, our co-op and internship program has expanded ten-fold, we’ve increased our efforts in undergraduate research, we’ve added international study opportunities, and more. According to entrance statistics, this incoming class represents the most highly qualified and diverse group of students we have ever seen in the STEM College.
Welcome to all of our new faculty, administrators, and students. These are exciting times at YSU, with great opportunity. You’re in for a great ride!
I spent the day yesterday at the Summer Festival of the Arts, during which our alumni association was hosting an alumni tent that seemed to be getting little attention. So, I thought I would spend a few minutes discussing the importance of our alumni and thanking all of our readers for their interest.
Let me start with our recent graduates. As our students graduate, we make a substantial effort to find out their future plans. Some will respond and keep us informed, but unfortunately, the vast majority seems to just drift off. I know they’re finding jobs (or graduate school opportunities), because I often hear about their success later on. Yesterday, the parents of one of our recent graduates told me that their son had landed a job with a company in North Carolina. He had started working and was doing very well.
After graduation, our students become our alumni, who represent one of our most important constituencies, in that they represent the success of the college. There is no greater resource for me than a dedicated alumnus. And the STEM College is fortunate to have many of them. They give of their time by coming back to give presentations to students, by representing YSU at events, by promoting YSU within their company, by encouraging their employer to hire additional YSU grads, and by helping to recruit future students to the university. Every time they tell someone that they are a YSU graduate, they are helping out the University.
It’s fun to talk with the alumni and to hear about their activities. At the Festival yesterday, I ran into a 1970 electrical engineering graduate. We started talking about his career, his activities, whether he keeps in contact with the college, and more. It was good to catch up, to learn about his hopes for the future of STEM, and to get his input on what we can do to maintain our success. And I think that’s key; we value our alumni because they know the program and know how it has impacted their career. And they’re not ashamed to let us know what we need to do to keep up with the changing demands of industry.
To conclude these thoughts, I want to thank all of our alumni who do get engaged with YSU, whether overtly or not. If you haven’t been in contact recently, give us a call or drop us a note. I would love to talk with you and find out how your YSU education has advanced your career.
Now, looking forward for a final thought, I want to issue a warm welcome to our new President and his wife, Randy and Ronda Dunn. I ran into them yesterday at the Festival, as well. While I only had a few moments to say hello, it’s clear that they already understand their importance to the success of YSU. I am optimistic that they will help to propel YSU to even greater heights, and I will encourage all of our STEM alumni to spend a few minutes getting to know them.
Thanks for all that you do. Have a good month!
Welcome to June. These are usually words of relief for an academic, signaling a transition to the slower pace of the summer. Hasn’t happened that way in the STEM College this year.
Our June began with the Sustainable Energy Forum, an annual conference in which we try to connect small business, energy entrepreneurs with YSU faculty. We had a great session describing the energy impacts of additive manufacturing, including participation from NAMII, the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and much more. There were over 200 people in attendance throughout the two-day meeting. I noticed many excellent discussions going on in the hallways and the exhibition area during our breaks. This was again a great opportunity to form connections and learn about the energy challenges that our society continues to face.
We also were pleased to be able to accept a $440 million contribution of software from Siemens Corporation. It was a great day for YSU and the STEM College, not only participating in the press event announcing the contribution, but also visiting with our new friends from Siemens. We’ll get the new software installed in our engineering computer labs (including our teaching lab in which we’re installing 60 new computers) over the summer, and then Siemens will come out in September to conduct some training sessions for our faculty, who will then be able to integrate the software into their teaching repertoire. This is going to be a tremendous opportunity once it becomes fully integrated into our curriculum, and we are greatly looking forward to working with Siemens as we continue to take advantage of this tremendous gift.
Finally, I’ve been very busy finalizing the hiring activity for a number of new faculty. We’re adding about a dozen faculty this year, including the hiring activity that’s already been completed in Physics, Electrical Engineering, and Geology and Environmental Sciences. Now, we’re finalizing the process with two new faculty in Industrial Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Civil Engineering, and we are still interviewing for new faculty in Mechanical Engineering. These new faculty will add to our undergraduate teaching; to our capabilities in Materials Science and Engineering and support for our PhD program; to our efforts in additive manufacturing; and to our support for the shale industry. This represents the largest influx of new faculty for the STEM College in the last six years. Combined with the establishment of NAMII and the gift from Siemens, this faculty growth provides an unprecedented opportunity for growth in our research and teaching agenda.
We’re looking forward to a period of tremendous growth for the college over the next few years. Stay tuned; good things are happening here.