Highlights from 2018 and Looking Ahead to 2019
With our largest-ever incoming undergraduate class and a record number of new faculty, this academic year is already shaping up to be a banner one for Stevens Institute of Technology. I am excited to welcome all of our distinguished new faculty members, the Class of 2022 and our incoming graduate students, and I extend my best wishes to our returning students, faculty and staff.
This marks the start of my third full academic year at Stevens. I am proud of the progress that we have made during my time here and I am eager to continue our collaborative efforts to build a premier research and teaching institution.
Last year, we made significant strides toward this goal. We renewed our academic leadership and continued along the path set forth in Stevens’ ten-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create.
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2017-2018 academic year, we received confirmation that we are on the right track. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) affirmed our accreditation in June, the result of a comprehensive process and review that was more than two years in the making. I would like to thank the entire campus community for its participation and support during this rigorous process.
Welcome to Our Incoming Students
We can continue to look forward to building on our achievements. Our incoming freshman class is not only the largest, but it is among our strongest academically and our most diverse yet. This fall, we are joined by more than 1,050 undergraduates – up more than 30 percent from last fall. This increase was fueled largely by growth in computer science, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and quantitative finance.
These incoming students were chosen from our largest and most competitive applicant pool ever. All our academic units – from faculty to department chairs to associate deans to deans – worked collaboratively with Undergraduate Admissions to help recruit this class. To cope with the increased enrollment and to continue providing the excellent learning experience for which Stevens is known, academic units have been allocated additional resources, and budgets continue to be adjusted.
In addition to the new undergraduate students, we welcomed over 1,100 new graduate students, including 48 Ph.D. students, bringing our total graduate enrollment to over 3,300 and 300 Ph.D. students. We know this strong group will make an impact on our academic and research enterprise.
Despite the strength of our new graduate students, we would be remiss not to mention the difficult political climate for international recruiting, the strong economic conditions that reduce the attractiveness of graduate studies for domestic students and the increased competition from our peers. There is still much work to be done, especially considering the external challenges. Our offices of Graduate Admissions and Research and academic colleagues are all working tirelessly to grow our domestic and StevensOnline enrollments, research awards, Ph.D. enrollment, graduate student quality, selectivity and placement, and – indirectly – our graduate school rankings.
Record Number of New Faculty; Continued Academic and Research Progress
Further, we have added 30 new faculty members for the 2018-19 academic year — an increase that amounts to a whopping 10 percent of the size of the faculty body last year. Our new faculty members include a new dean, two department chairs and several senior faculty. The new group represents the largest number of full-time faculty to be added in a single year in the university’s history, underscoring our determination to build our graduate and research enterprises and, thus, our reputation as a research-intensive institution.
These new faculty members join us from some of the most prestigious universities in the world and I am certain that they will fundamentally contribute to our teaching and research missions. I wish to express my appreciation to all the faculty and administrators who worked diligently during the past year to recruit this amazing group of new faculty. As we enter year seven of the Stevens Strategic Plan, we are building upon our momentum and we anticipate continuing robust faculty hiring until 2022.
These new developments follow a string of successes. Last year was a record year for research at Stevens, with awards totaling more than $45 million. Our research centers performed especially well, bringing in more than $24 million. More than $10 million came through the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC), nearly $7 million through the Maritime Security Center and $4 million from the Center for Environmental Systems (CES). There was also strong growth from the Department of Computer Science.
Our schools continued to make important advances, as well:
- Dr. Yehia Massoud, who joined us in January after an intensive search, begins his first full academic year as dean of the School of Systems and Enterprises. We remain committed to SSE and look forward to the school’s revitalization under Dean Massoud’s leadership.
- The Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science has welcomed five new department chairs, two of them external hires, who will bring a wealth of academic administration experience and fresh ideas to our largest school.
- The Stevens School of Business was recently chosen by AACSB International, the premier business school accreditation agency, to co-lead a new Digital Transformation Affinity Group, which will guide how business schools prepare future professionals for a corporate world increasingly influenced by artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics.
- The College of Arts and Letters received the $1 million Steeneck Gift for the Humanities, the largest gift in the school’s history, in recognition of the important role the humanities play at Stevens.
Beyond our individual schools and departments, we continue to build on Stevens’ strength in interdisciplinary education and research. Our new Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence is the latest example. This tech-driven collaboration seeks to unite faculty experts from engineering, business, and systems to capitalize on our disciplinary strengths and put Stevens on the map in this vitally important and fast-growing field.
In addition, the university recently entered into a promising partnership with Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) focused on energy innovation, public service and arts and cultural programming. This is a strong example of how universities and industry can work together to advance the public good.
StevensOnline, which we launched in July 2017, continues to grow steadily, offering the full benefit of a Stevens education to more than 120 students during the past year. StevensOnline now offers 20 completely online master’s degrees and more than 30 graduate certificates, enabling working professionals to advance their careers.
As we strengthen our academic offerings, we also move forward with our ongoing effort to revitalize our infrastructure. Construction is well underway on the new Gianforte Family Academic Center. Extensive renovations taking place at Alexander House and Pond House will provide much-needed space for student activities and campus wellness programs. Classroom and lab renovations continue in several buildings. And we recently opened the Babbio Patio, a new spot from which to appreciate the spectacular views that make our campus so special.
Back in February, we welcomed Dr. Connie Mariano, rear admiral, U.S. Navy (retired) and former White House physician, for the Provost’s Lecture Series on Women in Leadership. Through several campus events leading up to her lecture before a full room in Burchard 118, Dr. Mariano inspired us with stories of her journey to the White House and beyond. At this lecture, we also awarded the inaugural Provost’s Lecture Series Scholarship, honoring Dr. Mariano. Stay tuned for more information on our next lecture.
Fiscal Year 2018 also marks the first year of implementation of the new Responsibility Center Management (RCM) budget model. Based on the differential between FY18 budgeted amounts versus actual amounts, the responsibility centers (the four schools) will receive a portion of the upside. We will continue to work with the Division of Finance to fine-tune the model, but are hopeful this new resource allocation model will drive continued growth and help align resources based on the level of activity and strategic priorities.
From the technology front, we will soon launch the first stage of a major upgrade to our student information system (SIS). The new SIS, Workday Student, will make processes such as degree audits, registration, and scheduling more efficient. A collaboration among the Division of Information Technology, academic units and administrative offices across the university, this new system will make it far easier to navigate the complexities of the university and help us carry out our pledge to place students at the center of everything we do.
I look forward to working with the entire community as we continue to build upon these advances, guided by our strategic plan.
And I remain grateful for the support and commitment of colleagues across the university. I appreciate your dedication to the success of our students and our institution.
Best wishes for a successful academic year!