Provost Beth Ingram held an open meeting at the Engineering Administration building on Tuesday, Sept. 19 to address any concerns from the staff and faculty of the College of Engineering. If it wasn’t obvious North Dakota State was just coming out of a budget cut, it soon became clear. The air was full of concern and curiosity for the future of NDSU’s College of Engineering post-budget cuts.
What was apparent was that the staff and faculty had one question for Ingram, “What is your plan for the College?”
According to Ingram, campus-wide there are about 100 unfilled faculty positions and about the same number of staff positions still left unfilled. Although NDSU is now out of its hiring freeze for engineering faculty, the sting from those loses is still felt.
“We are overloaded,” a representative of the college stated.
“The issue right now is getting the faculty and staff back,” Ingram told the room. Making permanent chairs for the department is the priority and that “this college (Engineering) is planning on doing a lot of hiring.” However big changes will not be starting until the fall of 2018 because the money from the state won’t be available until June.
Currently, staff and faculty must play the waiting game on the University.
Resources for the College of Engineering
Dr. Robert Pieri (Dr. Bob), a professor of mechanical engineering, asked about the resources that the college can provide the students. Most importantly, he emphasized making sure that classrooms are used efficiently and are properly equipped for the class being taught there.
Dr. Bob told Ingram that during certain times it is impossible to find available classrooms for switching.
“Everyone wants to teach between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” Ingram said, pointing to the students in the room. “Do students like taking 8 a.m. classes?”
Ingram offered the possible solution, saying that the campus is possibly considering new classroom assignment software that will increase the efficiency in classroom to class allocation.
The software would not only consider the size of the class, but also the student’s other course required classes and seek to not overlap those classes.
Ingram stated that there are more renovations and possibly a new building in the future for the College of Engineering, but also stressed small fixes.
For instance, adding a whiteboard is only about an $800 investment and could “drastically change a student’s perception of NDSU” Ingram told the room. These small fixes are easier to get approved and help immediately rather than just point towards the future.
How to keep the students as the focus
“How are we going to support students? Because isn’t that sort of our motto?” Dr. Bob asked.
Many of the staff and faculty had complaints about school technology, ranging from random viruses for computers to Blackboard.
Ingram stated that if left to the university they might have moved on from Blackboard, citing multiple complaints and service problems.
Provost Ingram said that right now, again, it is about rehiring and filling those vacant spots left from budget cuts. Renovations are great and coming, but student experiences come from great professors and great staff.
The College of Engineering is doing okay, with only a slight dip in numbers from previous years. Roughly about 100 fewer students than last year.
Although it may seem like the college’s future is in the hands of the university, Monique Anderson, the vice president of development for NDSU, and Provost Ingram pointed inwards to where the most immediate change can happen.
“If you have good ideas make sure to share them with Mark (Versen) and Andy (Dahl), (the directors of development for the College of Engineering),” Anderson stated to the room.
Staff and faculty with a good idea for bettering the college for them as well as students were encouraged to develop these ideas and present them.
This is how the college can grow and gather the interest of alumni and donors. “People want to get behind success,” Anderson said, pointing to an example of a donor’s contribution to the athletic programs at NDSU. She said that the donor wanted to contribute to the success of the programs whether their excellence was on a court or field. Anderson expressed to the staff and faculty to find what they truly excel at and sell that.
The state of the College going forward
The College of Engineering is fine at NDSU, just like all the other colleges are fine. Life and jobs are not ideal, but we must wait until Fall 2018 for any big changes to happen.
Currently, the task of the College of Engineering and the university as a whole is to attract new staff and faculty that can better the university for the students and those who work there.
As far as students, we must understand that this affects our education. Understand that the quality of education may not be directly affected, but overloaded professors lead to issues for everyone. The future is coming, but it is obviously in the future. Fall 2018 can’t come soon enough for those in the College.