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School reports

Throughout the academic year, deans make annual reports to their staff and faculty, laying out the goals, aspirations and challenges for the upcoming year. School Reports is an occasional series written by University Relations staff that takes a look at the state of the University one piece at a time.

Back to the future: McIntire’s move will open opportunities

Dean Carl Zeithaml
Photo by Rebecca Arrington
Dean Carl Zeithaml

In 1975, the McIntire School of Commerce moved from its home on the Lawn to Monroe Hall. Last year, the Commerce School learned it would be moving back.

McIntire has chosen Hartman-Cox Architects of Washington, an architectural firm with strong credentials in historic preservation, to renovate Rouss Hall and design a new, 100,000-square-foot academic complex attached to the building’s rear.

Moving into the new building will allow the school to expand its offices, state-of-the-art classrooms and popular capital markets and financial trading center.

Building on the success of the school’s most recent fund-raising effort, which brought in nearly $8.8 million in gifts and pledges in fiscal year 2002, McIntire will launch a $50 million “Back to the Lawn” capital campaign in April.

In addition to providing new space for Commerce School classes, the Rouss Hall addition will enable McIntire to expand its course offerings to College students, create other new courses for University students and promote interdisciplinary research. John Griffin (McIntire ’85), president and founder of Blue Ridge Capital, provided the initial funding for the collaboration with a $500,000 gift.

“Over the long term, this collaboration promises to transform the experience of students and faculty in both the McIntire School and the College of Arts & Sciences,” said McIntire School Dean Carl Zeithaml.

“We intend to create an inspirational physical presence to facilitate innovation and collaboration among the faculty and students of McIntire and the College.”
Still, 2002 was a tough year in some ways. In particular, the state budget crisis meant a budget cut of almost 9 percent, or about $1.5 million, for McIntire. The school is working to protect core activities and minimize its impact, but faculty and staff have not received raises in two years and McIntire students are paying higher tuition.

Even so, the McIntire School stepped up two places in the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of undergraduate business programs and now stands at No. 5, tied with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Last spring, the school hosted some of America’s most creative minds in such diverse industries as winemaking, hospitality, banking, aviation and entertainment through the Center for Growth Enterprises’ third annual symposium, “Creativity and Innovation in Mature Industries.”

Among the guests were Robert Mondavi, father of the modern American wine industry, and Stanford University Professor Robert I. Sutton, who discussed his book, “Weird Ideas that Work: 111/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation.”

Sutton stressed the importance of businesses tolerating failure because “it is impossible to generate a few good ideas without generating a lot of bad ideas. … The only kind of failure that deserves to be punished is inaction.”

Dean Richard Miksad
Photo by Stephanie Gross
Dean Richard Miksad

Programs, grants, gifts keep E-school focused on future

In a field that changes as rapidly as engineering, there is no such thing as business as usual.

The one constant is keeping focused on the future.

And despite cuts in state funding, that future is rich with opportunity, says Dean Richard Miksad.

“Our response to budget cuts is not to hunker down, but to act prudently and decisively,” Miksad said. “There’s no doubt that cuts in state support have reduced our short-term flexibility, but they have also inspired us to think hard about the future.” Securing new sources of funding helps researchers progress in areas such as information technology, nanotechnology and bioengineering, he said.

Last year, Engineering School researchers brought in nearly $38 million, almost double the $20.6 million secured five years ago, according to Haydn Wadley, associate dean for research.

A $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation laid the foundation for a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. Thanks in part to $10.5 million from the Whitaker Foundation, the department of biomedical engineering moved into a new building in February and is hiring six new faculty members. And faculty in the computer science department have combined with investigators from other schools to attract nearly $9 million for research.

Private gifts from foundations, corporations and alumni reached $15 million last year, bringing total private giving to $90 million since 1995, according to Tom Connors, executive director of the Virginia Engineering Foundation.

Faculty creativity also figures into the revenue picture. Over the past three years, they have sought patent protection for nearly 80 inventions, including more than 30 last year, Wadley said.

Perhaps the ultimate measure of strength is in the school’s educational programs, Miksad said. Although undergraduate enrollment has grown by nearly 400 students – up 25 percent since 1992 – and some class sizes have gotten larger, the quality of the students the school attracts remains high. Initiatives such as the Science and Technology Policy Washington Internships and the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon have drawn top students.

Graduate applications also have grown, doubling every two years, according to Kathy Thornton, assistant dean for graduate programs. Online applications, introduced in October 2001, helped the school attract nearly 2,500 applications last year, a record.

To promote innovation in teaching and research, the school has encouraged faculty members to collaborate in four “cluster” areas — bioengineering; computer and information science and engineering; nanotechnology; and societal and environmental systems.

“For an engineering school of our size and our high aspirations, it’s imperative that we leverage our resources by collaborating with others,” Miksad said. “And since major advances in engineering have always occurred at the boundaries between established disciplines, collaborative ventures are essential to the continued vitality and relevance of the school.”


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