A New Opportunity:
Planning for Strategic Growth

September 2012

Dear Purdue Engineering Colleagues,

The College of Engineering is embarking on a period of remarkable growth. With the support of the Provost and Board of Trustees, we expect to increase the size of the College faculty by 30% and the College staff by 28% over the next five years. Growth on this scale is an opportunity for transformational change.

In this newsletter, I summarize the background that has created this opportunity for growth, detail the parameters of the plan, and outline our initial thinking and planning.

Strategic growth will now complement, leverage, and integrate with the College's ongoing strategic plan, "Extraordinary People, Global Impact." A newsletter in the coming weeks will report on the progress of the strategic plan implementation. Going forward, the themes of strategic growth and strategic plan will combine to form the new framework for "Extraordinary People, Extraordinary Growth, Extraordinary Impact." This is therefore a call to action: I urge you to be a part of the discussions that will be taking place over the course of this year, as we develop the plans that will shape the future of the College. On an even greater scale, "We will be known for our impact on the world."

Leah Jamieson
The John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering


From fall 2006 to fall 2011, the College of Engineering enterprise grew significantly. Our undergraduate enrollment grew by 17%; our graduate enrollment by 28%; and our research enterprise, as measured by annual research expenditures, by 79%. This growth brought new revenue to Purdue. During this interval, annual revenue from undergraduate tuition and fees increased by over $60 million in fiscal year 2012 (corresponding to the 2011-12 academic year) compared to the tuition and fee revenue in fiscal year 2007. F&A revenue from grants led by College faculty and staff also increased by $12.5 million compared to FY07.

Responding to our increased activities, in April 2012 the Provost and Board of Trustees endorsed a five-year plan for a dramatic investment in the College of Engineering, centered on growth in faculty and staff numbers. Our FY13 budget (July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013) reflects year one of the planned increase. Adjustments for 2014-2016 are included in the proposed budget for the next biennium, and, based on annual monitoring of progress, continued growth will be a part of the budget planning process into the following biennium.

Parameters of the Plan

Under the plan, the College general fund budget will grow between 37% and 43% over the next five years, with the funds supporting hiring of new faculty (including partial support for faculty startup), staff, instructional staff, and TAs:

  • Engineering undergraduate enrollment will grow from 7,087 in FY11 to 7,778 by FY16. This represents a 9.75% increase. This modest continued growth in undergraduate enrollment is consistent with the University's interest in growing Engineering and allows Purdue to be a part of the national call to graduate 10,000 more engineers per year.
  • The colleges and departments that will be affected by the increase in Engineering's enrollment – our undergraduates take approximately half of their credit hours outside engineering – will receive resources to support their efforts.
  • Engineering will add as many as 107 new faculty members, increasing from 358 to 465. This represents a 30% increase.
  • Engineering will add 105 staff, increasing from approximately 375 to 480. This represents a 28% increase. Thirteen of the new staff positions are designated for instructional support (instructors, academic advisors, lab managers, recruiters, etc.), modeled as a function of the growth in undergrad enrollment. Growth by an additional 92 staff is modeled as a function of the growth in faculty, recognizing the importance of staff support for faculty success.
  • Engineering will add 88 new half-time TAs. The growth in TAs is modeled as a function of the growth in undergrad enrollment.
  • Graduate enrollment is managed at the School level. While not an explicit part of the financial model, we anticipate our graduate program will grow by 25-30% (750-800 grad students), in tandem with the addition of new faculty and growth in the College's research enterprise.

We estimate that the recurring budget increase to support the growth in faculty and staff will need to be accompanied by at least $135 million in new philanthropic/gift funds: scholarship endowments; graduate student fellowships; endowments for distinguished, named, and mid-career rising star professorships; space renovation and remodeling; and new capital projects. These goals will join the strategic plan investments as our development priorities going forward.

Next Steps

Growth of this magnitude has the potential to shape how we educate. It has the potential to shape how we connect with the world in myriad ways, including our research, engagement, economic development, entrepreneurship, partnerships, and global activities. And, at the most fundamental level, it has the potential to shape who we are.

Rather than try to make these grand decisions hastily, this year we concentrated on allocating the new resources to alleviate immediate pressures, especially in instruction. In parallel, we are devoting the year to planning our strategic growth, framed around big picture questions:

  • What will differentiate universities over the next 5 to 25 years?
  • Where could the College of Engineering be in 10 to 20 years if we are successful in developing and implementing bold plans, in concert with pursuing our strategic vision?
  • How can this investment in Engineering create opportunities across the entire University?
  • What are the blue ocean opportunities?
  • What are critical polarities and how do we manage them?
  • How will we measure impact?

We have formed a Strategic Growth Planning and Implementation Team to develop a framework for our planning and to identify and monitor critical processes, metrics, targets, and milestones. One of the team's first activities was to articulate guiding principles, beginning with "We will strive for transformational change" and concluding with "We will be inclusive and transparent in our discussions and decision making." Over the past month and continuing throughout this year, we will engage faculty, staff, students, alums, and friends of the College in lunches, discussion groups, working groups, workshops, and forums. We will host a distinguished lecture series that will bring thought leaders to campus to explore broad contexts:

  • The land grant promise in the global era
  • The public university of the future
  • The role of engineering in education and in society
  • Game changers in technology, research, and education
  • Critical partnerships for the future

And we will delve into very specific questions, including:

  • Faculty and staff search, hiring, mentoring, and career advancement
    • Composition of the faculty: rank, track (tenured/tenure track, faculty of engineering practice, research), diversity
    • Criteria for allocation/distribution of faculty and staff: by school, research area, nature of research, instructional needs, partnership opportunities, alignment with strategic plan/strategic goals
    • Leveraging Engineering's growth to create opportunities across Purdue
    • Recruiting processes – can we improve efficiency/effectiveness?
    • Ensuring a positive climate for all
  • Research/Discovery, Education/Learning
    • Understanding our strengths, analyzing our potential, predicting the future, opportunities for preeminence
    • Trends that will change the nature of teaching and learning
    • Research that will shape the future
    • Funding trends on a national and global scale
    • Facilities and research infrastructure
    • Partnerships for impact
  • Space
    • Undergraduate student quality and diversity; capacity in first-year engineering; capacity in the schools and divisions; pressure points in teaching, advising, recruiting
    • Graduate student growth as a function of faculty growth, research growth, and resources
    • Matching student growth to opportunities: internships and coop, undergrad research, EPICS, study abroad, employment
    • Continuing to build a positive climate for all students
  • Reputation:
    • Enhancing the reputation of our schools/divisions/disciplines
    • Sharpening the focus on what Purdue Engineering and – through our collaborations – Purdue, is known for
    • Leveraging the opportunity: If, at the end of five years, all we (and others) can say is that the College of Engineering is larger, we will have lost a tremendous opportunity. How do we ensure that this opportunity for growth enhances who we are, what we do, and how we are seen by the rest of the world?

Throughout this year of planning, and through the next several years of implementation, we have the opportunity for leadership in thinking about far-reaching themes of growth, transformation, and impact. To all of the Extraordinary People of Purdue Engineering: please contribute your creativity and brilliance to shaping our future. It promises to be exciting.