December 2022

beena-sukumaran-400x600-1.jpgWinds of change for academic institutions

Academic institutions that will thrive and persist through the next 100 years will look different from the institutions that have thrived and persisted in the past 100 years. The winds of change are blowing and this includes the demographic cliff, which is almost upon us, and the changing educational landscape. Institutions that adapt quickly and are nimble and agile will thrive in this new landscape.
Our college is adapting and pivoting to these changes without losing our emphasis on providing a high quality, personalized technical education built on a liberal arts foundation. We are doing so by embracing curricular transformation in existing programs, proposing new degree programs and using data and technology to provide personalized advising and learning.
Our first-year experience incorporates hands on, multidisciplinary projects that have a societal impact. These projects also have a multidisciplinary focus with faculty and staff from different disciplines working alongside students. I am grateful to the faculty and our academic advisors who worked on developing this updated approach to introducing our first-year students to engineering and computing. They brought in innovative ideas, collaborated and are building something that they are proud of and students will benefit from in future years.
We have also proposed new graduate certificates and/or degree programs based on a robust assessment of the marketplace. The university has invested $50 million to seed these programs through a Boldly Creative initiative. Faculty are integral to these changes. I want to extend my deep appreciation to the faculty in all of our disciplines who have contributed to the development of the new curriculum. I hear their excitement as they plan to teach these new courses.
The new undergraduate degree programs in Robotics Engineering, graduate programs in Clinical Engineering and graduate certificates in Advanced Manufacturing are all part of these initiatives. Revamping of our manufacturing engineering program is also part of this initiative. Our alumni and industry partners are key to the success of these efforts as they provide constructive feedback on industry requirements and needs and provide their valuable time and resources to make some of these changes a reality.
Computer science now has a new Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science in addition to its Bachelor of Science degree. We want to reduce barriers to entry and provide opportunities to students from other majors and disciplines to get a degree in Computer Science. Stay tuned as we also have other degree programs that are working through the approval process.
We are thrilled that we have been able to add more advising professionals to our staff to better serve our students. The use of technological tools also means we can do more frequent and detailed advising to ensure success of our students.
The students of today and tomorrow will match the evolving US demographic where nearly four of 10 Americans identify with a race or ethnic group other than white. Also, the number of traditional age students searching for a college degree is matching the US declining birth rate.  We must adapt our processes to this reality. We hear the doubts raised about higher education. However, just take a look at some of our student success stories; our graduation rates show no discrepancy between different racial or ethnic minority groups.  Our technical degrees matched with a liberal education at Miami University are working for the new demographic.  Engineering and computing students are already changing the world through their research, and they are ready for great things as they enter the workforce.  All that being said, we cannot stop here.  We must continue to improve to be successful in the future.
The faculty and staff have shown a willingness to propose new courses and programs during the stress of the last two years that included the pandemic.  Their willingness to embrace change and address the shifting educational landscape speaks to their resilience and commitment to the institution. The holidays are our time to celebrate and reflect, and dream about the future. I wish each and every one of you joy and peace this holiday season.
With Love and Honor


Beena Sukumaran, Ph.D.

The Dinesh & ILA Paliwal Dean of the College of Engineering and Computing