Engineering Dean Candidates Visit Cooper Union

By Matthew Grattan (BSE ’19)

Two candidates for the Dean of Engineering visited The Cooper Union last week to give presentations to students and faculty. One candidate presented on Tuesday, and the other presented on Friday. The candidates had similar credentials: They both served as department heads at their respective universities, had backgrounds in electrical engineering, and had experience working with the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET).

The Pioneer has withheld publishing the names of the candidates to respect their confidentiality and to prevent jeopardizing their current jobs.

After the presentations, the candidates opened the floor to audience questions, many of which seemed related to the recent contact hour policy change in the engineering school. Students and faculty were particularly concerned with trust and transparency of the prospective dean candidates and how they used community input to handle departmental changes.

Both candidates were heavily focused on preparing students to be competitive in the future work force—whether that’s work in industry, government, or non-profits. Tuesday’s candidate wanted to promote student projects and partnerships with industry, and Friday’s candidate asserted a need for future engineers to not only be highly-technical, but also ethical and environmentally conscious.

The candidates made their own attempts to learn what they could about The Cooper Union—one candidate even brought up The Cooper Union’s mission statement in their presentation. Both candidates were impressed by the Cooper Union graduates they have interacted with, and appealed to The Cooper Union’s academic reputation in their talks.

Both candidates wanted to encourage interdisciplinary work at The Cooper Union, but their descriptions suggested work across different engineering majors; not necessarily work across the engineering, art, and architecture schools.

One question that was neither asked nor answered was whether the candidates wanted to be the dean of an engineering school or the dean of the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. And if we really do regard ourselves as being a unique school, then that small distinction makes all the difference.

Two other engineering dean candidates visited The Cooper Union last semester, and as of now, no further visits are planned. Ultimately, the selected engineering dean candidate will be approved by President Laura Sparks.

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