Dear Colleagues, 

Last month, we began a new tradition with our inaugural State of the College event. I was glad to see so many of you there. As a supplement to the event and for those of you would couldn’t make it, here’s a quick recap along with new important details, including upcoming opportunities for your continued involvement:

On September 18, we held a day-long retreat with our planning work teams, and many of our stakeholders were there. I was delighted that President Fry and former Provost Blake attended the presentation portion of the day, and shared their feedback firsthand with our work teams. This made for an extremely productive afternoon, with our faculty and staff brainstorming ideas about the student experience and curricular reform; culture and community; and marketing, communications, and recruitment.

As we collected notes from the day and debriefed with the executive committee in the following weeks, it reminded me of the real capacity and talent inherent in our faculty, staff and students. We may feel that resources are tight, but in fact, we have the most fundamentally important resource here—and that is people and their creative energy.

In fact, because of our people and collective creativity, I am excited to share a revised path forward for our teams. Work team co-leads have reorganized into new groups based on outcomes from the fall retreat as follows: 

  • Curriculum and pedagogy: Address the ways in which we teach and mentor students and prepare them for the complex societal challenges that will dominate the professional world they will enter.
  • Graduate programs: Explore opportunities for launching new degree programs and rethinking the boundaries of executive and professional education.
  • Research and innovation: Identify collaborative themes, and the actions and incentives required to sustain and continue performance, while ensuring activities align with University objectives.
  • Space and culture: Review the college’s physical infrastructure needs, renovation plans, and use of space to support the overall academic and community experience for faculty, students, and staff. 

Team members are in the process of organizing in these new groups, and over the next month will convene to produce specific recommendations and a timescale for implementation in the short term of one to two years, the mid-term of three to five years, and the long term of five to ten years. 

That’s where you—our faculty and staff community—come in. We plan to share these thoughts, a framework and outcomes through focus groups in early December, after which we’ll crystallize the final plan. So stay tuned for a save-the-date in the coming weeks. 

At the State of the College, I emphasized a sense of hope for the future, and reiterated a commitment to realizing advancements across curricular reform, diversity and inclusion, recruitment, and community engagement. These new working groups are a direct reflection of that, and my wish is that everyone feels this same sense of renewed hope when they see the proposals put forth. 

We’re not just looking at guidelines and investments, but a renewed sense of purpose and shared direction—and for that, we’ve already been incredibly successful. 

For when we look at where our expertise is, see people who see the problems we want to solve, and have people who see those problems from the perspective of tools and expertise we bring, we will be able to define a plan that brings everything together and advances our distinctly Drexel engineering experience. 

Leading up to this next round of community input, I thank you in advance for being open to thinking about what it means to educate our students, what content matters and how we deliver that content. 
Sharon L. Walker, PhD
Dean, College of Engineering