College of Engineering receives input for next dean through first listening session


Taylor Shaw/Iowa State Daily

Gary Mirka, professor in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, asks the audience what the College of Engineering is doing well and what needs improvement at the listening session for the College of Design dean search at Howe Hall on Nov. 27. Another listening session will be held at Howe Hall from 4-5p.m. on Dec. 3.

Annelise Wells

Faculty and community members gathered in Hoover Hall on Tuesday afternoon to give their input on what they want to see in the upcoming search for the next dean of Iowa State’s College of Engineering.

Gary Mirka, professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering and former associate dean and department chair, and Luis Rico-Gutierrez, dean of the College of the Design, are the co-chairs of the dean search committee and led the listening session.

Mirka discussed the timeline they hope for the dean search process. The due date for candidate applications is Jan. 1, 2019. Mirka said the committee hopes to have the initial screening of applicants completed by Jan. 18, with off-site or “airport interviews” on Feb. 2 and 3.

From there, the committee aims to bring candidates to campus in late February. Mirka said if the timeline is followed, the new dean will begin on July 1.

Mirka said audience members should go through their professional networks on campus, off campus, and even internationally to encourage qualified colleagues to apply for the position.

“This is a completely wide open search and we are just looking for the best talent to apply,” Mirka said.

Rico-Gutierrez started the session by saying the committee wants input on what the community wants them to focus on when it comes to the screening process.

“Frankly, for a position like this, we have to be looking for a superhuman,” Rico-Gutierrez said. “Most likely we will not get a superhuman, we’ll get a human … In a college as diverse as engineering or a college as diverse as design, there’s no way one single person is perfect for every corner of a college.”

Audience members brought up a variety of topics that they want to see from the next dean, including the importance of the dean working with teams at different levels within the college. This includes faculty, staff, and students, all while helping them work together.

Recruitment and retention rates were also brought up as something the next dean should keep in mind.

“We want to do a good job of recruiting students in the college of engineering and we also want to make sure that we have programs and services that are successfully retaining them and assisting our students to graduate,” said Joel Johnson, program director of Engineering Student Services.

Johnson also said a track record of fundraising is an emphasis that should be considered and that initiatives should be continued throughout the dean’s tenure.

To end the session, Rico-Gutierrez said whoever comes as the next dean of the College of Engineering, the staff will help them to incorporate themselves into the college.

“We are going to make our most informed choice, but it is up to all of us to make sure this person is successful,” Rico-Gurierrez said. 

The second listening session will be held on Dec. 3 in the Howe Hall auditorium from 4 to 5 p.m.