Even before many of our engineering students left campus for the summer, we began thinking about the coming academic year and how we can improve the educational experiences we deliver to them.
That was particularly true this past summer. Not only have we embarked on a number of renovations that will yield more flexible, modern learning spaces for our students, but we also are preparing for the first full cohort of freshmen to be admitted directly into the college and into the major of their choice.
Additionally, I am very excited to announce that, with a $22 million pledge from The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois, we are able to take a giant leap forward in our efforts to revolutionize engineering education and position all our undergraduate students for even greater success in their professional endeavors. This investment will allow us to make strategic improvements in our physical spaces—including a new engineering design innovation laboratory that will spark new ideas in our students as they think more broadly about solutions that extend through a product’s life cycle. The gift also will enable us to expand our tutoring and peer-to-peer learning programs, and to offer new engineering capabilities, programs, courses and research experiences that help us quickly meet industry demand for engineers with unique skillsets. On page XX, read more about this remarkable gift and how we will use it to accelerate our efforts to transform engineering education at UW-Madison.
Earlier in 2015, the university also received another landmark gift that will yield great benefits for our students. Alumni Albert “Ab” and Nancy Nicholas committed $50 million, with a one-to-one matching opportunity to inspire other donors to create scholarships and fellowships. In the College of Engineering, the gift will recognize and benefit talented students through merit-based undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.
Just as scholarships and fellowships help us contribute to the academic achievements of our students, supporting talented faculty is critical to our research and teaching missions. I’m very proud to announce that over the past year, we have created 25 new named professorships or chairs throughout the college. These include professorships or chairs established under the Morgridge matching gift opportunity, and through The Grainger Foundation $25 million gift, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and a number of individuals. Thank you all for this outpouring of support for our faculty. Beyond campus awards, we now have 55 professorships or chairs in the college or in our departments.
As I visit with engineering alumni around the country, so many of you have told me how important your UW-Madison engineering education was to your success. Your pride in the college is very evident—and it is very clear you want to maintain the high quality of your alma mater. In this issue of Perspective, we’ve included the names of donors to the college and its programs—and the length of those lists also is a testament to level of support you have shown the college. Each one of your gifts enables us to amplify our efforts and to advance the college’s position at the forefront of engineering research and education. I am profoundly grateful for your passion for the college and dedication to keeping it strong.
Ian M. Robertson, Dean