From April 26-28, Villanova University and the College of Engineering hosted the third annual meeting of Engineering Deans of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Open to Catholic institutions with engineering programs of any size, the 22 member schools range in student enrollments—undergraduate, master’s and doctoral—from about 100 (Merrimack College) to nearly 2,500 (Dayton University). The group’s national meeting offers a forum for discussing issues, challenges and trends unique to engineering education in Catholic institutions.
Villanova’s Gary A. Gabriele, PhD, Drosdick Endowed Dean, College of Engineering, notes the group’s evolution: “When we first met it was about comparing notes, asking ‘How do you do things at your school?’ As we’ve come to know each other better our conversations have focused more on what makes us distinctive in comparison to other private, secular schools.”
In addition to providing networking opportunities, the annual meeting incorporated sessions presented by engineering deans of member schools. Subjects included student retention and enrollment management, budget models and fundraising, e-learning and distance education, strategic planning and research/collaborations. Prior to the meeting, each dean was asked to complete a questionnaire on session-related topics that would later be used as a guide for session leaders. The compilation of answers also allowed members to see how their program compares to others in these key areas.
As the group refines the goals of its meetings, its members see opportunities for identifying and responding to important issues related to engineering education and the role of engineering in society from their unique perspective as deans of Catholic engineering programs. Dean Gabriele notes, “As a group we must make our voices heard on engineering education issues that we feel strongly about. While our colleges and universities reflect a variety of Catholic orders, our underlying messages and principles are the same.”