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Student Assembly Reps Meet with Dean of Engineering

10/20/2010

On Friday October 16 the Engineering Representatives, Scott Pendleton and Adam Yozwiak, with Freshman Representative, Tim Lenardo met with the Dean of Engineering, Lance Collins. The discussion was focused on faculty advising, mental health and the action that the Engineering college has taken with the Engineering 1050 class, allowing non-engineering students to earn engineering minors, and creating an endowment for engineering project teams.

With regards to advising, Dean Collins mentioned that previously every engineering student was required to meet with his or her advisor at least once a semester because it was required for the advisor to give the advisee a code to enroll in classes for next semester. Dean Collins thought that this system was effective at getting students to interact with advisors. He mentioned that at a high level, a system has been discussed (but not thoroughly debated) that would create faculty interests groups for advising instead of simply pairing students with advisors in similar departments. Dean Collins suggested that faculty interest groups could be created to unite students with similar interests (i.e., students considering applying to graduate school, students who just want support with scheduling, etc). Dean Collins said that personally, he prefers the opportunity to talk with students about career advise and not, “what can count for what.” He concluded the discussion on advising by stating that a faculty member’s priorities are first research, than teaching, followed by service and stated that advising falls under service.

With regards to the pilot mental health video shown in the engineering 1050 classes, Dean Collins could not comment on the effectiveness because he had not seen the final product, though he did comment that a similar program had been shown to the engineering faculty a few years prior and he believed the efforts were successful. Dean Collins warmly accepted Tim’s recommendation that the program would be more successful if it was shown later in the afternoon.

Dean Collins noted the difficulty in disassociating the typical stresses put on college students in an elite university from those that could put students at risk for suicide. He noted that as a community at Cornell it is important to get beyond the discomfort that is felt about discussing the issue and encouraged such discussions between students.

With regards to allowing any University to student to earn a minor from the College of Engineering, Dean Collins mentioned this was a noble goal that would come at a cost but because he did not know what these costs could be, there was not much further discussion. He believes that because of costs, currently there may be a limit on the number of credits students from outside the College of Engineering can earn from Engineering. This would be the reason it is not possible for those outside the College to attain engineering minors.

Finally, Dean Collins said that it is a goal of his to see a future endowment for engineering project teams. He assured us that this goal would not be a little feat and he made no guarantees on when this could happen, but all three SA representatives left excited about his enthusiasm towards our efforts.

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