Less than a year ago the College of Engineering was in the midst of a search for a new dean and the plans for Duffield Hall seemed far-off. Now under the leadership of Dean W. Kent Fuchs, goals for the college include implementing a new biomedical engineering program, assessing the College’s infrastructure and overseeing the completion and move-in to Duffield Hall.
“We are implementing a biomedical engineering program,” Fuchs said. “We are in the process of hiring new biomedical engineering faculty and obtaining facilities for the program.”
Additionally, the school will allow students in other colleges to minor in biomedical engineering and will offer the option for these students to earn a concentration and a Master of Engineering degree.
Fuchs said his primary goal was to assess the College’s infrastructure, especially the buildings and faculty.
“We are investing a lot of effort in a strategic planning process this fall and spring,” he said. “As part of that process we are assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the college and determining where it is headed.”
Fuchs explained that his administration is currently asking department schools to participate in this process. He said that the evaluation this spring will include input from students and alumni.
“The planning process will last throughout the academic year,” Fuchs said. “We are attempting to include all constituencies.”
He also explained the motivation for this rigorous evaluation.
“Our initial impressions are that many engineering buildings are in need of renovation,” Fuchs said. “We also believe that faculty size is in need of growth in order for us to take advantage of new opportunities in areas on biomedical engineering, computing, and nano-engineering.”
Fuchs said his third goal was to oversee the college moving into Duffield Hall once construction is completed.
“We are currently in the process of fundraising so we can move faculty into that building and oversee its completion,” he said.
With an end in sight, Fuchs estimates that the faculty should move into the building in the next year and that installing equipment into the new building will cost approximately $11 million.
Fuchs expressed his commitment to student organizations.
“I’ve been actively meeting with the leadership of all the student groups in the College of Engineering. I have made an open invitation that I will attend any of their meetings that they are willing to invite me to and I plan to include them in all of the planning processes for the future,” he said. “Every week I meet with several student groups.”
Members of many student organizations said they agree that Fuchs has been very helpful.
“I feel that Dean Fuchs is doing an excellent job as a new dean,” said Robert Young ’05, co-president of the Engineering Student Council (ESC). “His grasp of the college and the way it functions astounds me, given the short amount of time that he has been here.”
Young added, “He is very responsive to undergraduate students. Michelle Engler [the co-president of ESC] and I have had the chance to sit down and speak with him on several occasions. Dean Fuchs has also attended many different student group functions.”
Other students also said they believed Fuchs communicates effectively with students.
“I think he’s a very accessible person,” said Melissa Pomales ’03, president of the Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE). “He makes an effort to make it out to student organizations and seminars that he’s invited to. He wants people to see him and he seems to want to be out there with students, staff and faculty.”
Students in other organizations said they are not as pleased with the dean.
“I haven’t really had any interaction with him,” said John Connelly ’03, president of Institute of Biological Engineering. “We did ask the engineering school for a co-sponsorship on something and they didn’t respond at all.”
Connelly noted that other schools also failed to reply to his requests for co-sponsorship of his group’s Safe Place Project.
Nevertheless, Fuchs noted that he was quite pleased with how well his transition from Purdue University to Cornell last spring has gone.
“I’ve been greatly impressed with everyone who I have met and been working with,” he said. “I’m real pleased to be at Cornell.”
Archived article by David Hillis