Catalyst for Collaboration

Seattle University hosts first-ever national meeting for engineering deans from Catholic colleges and universities

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Story by: Mike Thee
Published: 2013-05-07

A first-of-its-kind gathering took place at SU last week as the College of Science and Engineering hosted the National Meeting of Engineering Deans and Directors from Catholic Colleges and Universities.

The inaugural meeting was spearheaded by Dean Michael Quinn of the College of Science and Engineering. The original thought was to hold a small gathering to welcome Gonzaga University's new engineering dean, but as the planning proceeded, it became clear to Quinn that such a meeting would have a broader appeal than that.

Quinn invited the deans and directors from all 22 of the ABET-accredited engineering colleges at Catholic institutions. "I thought if we could get 10 deans here, that would be fantastic," says Quinn. He got that and more, with 16, or nearly ¾ of the invitees attending.

Over the course of the three-day meeting, attendees explored a variety of topics of common interest, including enrollment management and budget issues; student retention; faculty development; collaboration and Catholic mission; curriculum; and external relations. Among other highlights they were treated to a VIP tour of Boeing's Everett factory.

Quinn found the meeting very fruitful. "I came away feeling energized, with new plans for the college."

Particularly resonating with Quinn were the sessions on fundraising and collaborating on distance education opportunities as an opportunity. "Some of the smaller schools can't offer courses in every area, so these sorts of collaborations would help us (round out our curricular offerings)," he says.

Half of the participating deans were from Jesuit institutions: the University of Detroit Mercy, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Maryland, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, Santa Clara University and, of course, SU.

The other Catholic institutions represented were the Catholic University of America, Christian Brothers University, Manhattan College, Saint Mary's University (Tex.), Saint Martin's University, Saint Thomas University, University of Notre Dame and University of Portland,.

The idea for holding meeting had been rattling around in Quinn's mind for some time, partly inspired by the Engineering Deans Institute, which he attends every year. He says the institute's formal program tends to be more relevant for deans at larger schools, but he finds the informal conversations he has with colleagues at smaller schools, particularly Catholic institutions, to be valuable.

Having led the way in providing a more formalized opportunity for deans of Catholic schools to gather, Quinn expects subsequent meetings to take place in the future, perhaps every year.   

Of last week's meeting he says, "I'm very pleased with how it turned out. The meeting put Seattle University in a good light and helped us raise our visibility."


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