Anticipating an outstanding year for our students

I hope all of you have enjoyed summer. Welcome to the start of a new academic year! In late summer, there’s always lots of excitement and anticipation on campus as our students return, eager to reconnect with each other and to immerse themselves once again in their lives in Madison. 

Our students are among the many reasons we have chosen to work in the College of Engineering—and like me, you probably also look forward to an engineering campus buzzing with their enthusiasm. 

Engineering degrees are in high demand, and the number of students enrolled in engineering at UW-Madison mirrors that trend. As we begin the 2015-2016 academic year, we again are seeing near-record-high numbers, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Each of these students brings a great diversity of backgrounds and perspectives to the college—and I’m hoping that each of you helps all of our students feel welcome and a valuable part of our very special College of Engineering community.

On Sept. 1, I had the privilege of attending our second-annual welcome event for more than 1,200 new and transfer students. Despite temperatures that hovered near 90 degrees, the day was an unparalleled success. In the morning, these students gathered here on the engineering campus and had the opportunity to meet other students in their major. We heard snippets of great conversations as these new students realized how much they have in common with their peers! Later in the morning, the students walked en masse to the chancellor’s convocation at the Kohl Center, then returned to Engineering Mall for lunch and a team design project that culminated in a festive gathering of all 1,200 students in the green space to the west of Engineering Hall. At the end of the day, we took a photo of all 1,200 students and their design. It was very inspiring to see our students work together and form their own community in just a short time! 

Here are a few facts about this year’s student body:

We have approximately 1,200 freshmen

Those students have come to UW-Madison from 36 U.S. states and 26 countries

Approximately 60 percent of our freshmen are from Wisconsin

Nearly 9 percent of our freshmen are from outside the United States

55 of our new students have transferred here from two- and four-year institutions, liberal arts colleges and technical colleges

Our undergraduate student body is approximately 5,000 students

There are approximately 1,400 graduate students enrolled in the college

This academic year is going to be an outstanding year for our students. As I’ve mentioned in my letters to you throughout the summer, we have embarked on a series of renovations that will enhance the environment in which our college community works and learns. Even more of our classrooms are freshly remodeled, cheerful and functional spaces—and for many of you who have patiently walked around the atrium of Engineering Hall, soon it will open as a gathering space for faculty, staff, students and visitors alike. In other areas, we are consolidating student services units and repurposing our most modern spaces for faculty laboratories. 

We also have enjoyed success in our faculty hiring efforts. In 2015, 16 new faculty joined the college and another 3 accepted offers and will begin their appointments  in the near future. Please join me in welcoming these talented faculty members to our great college.

On Sept. 17, I have scheduled my fall “state of the college” meeting (noon, 1106 ME), and I’ll talk in greater detail about the many initiatives underway here in the college. In addition to my regular update, we are planning very special announcement on Engineering Mall at 12:45 p.m., so I encourage you all to plan to attend, and please urge your students to attend, also. Look for more details from me soon. 

In the meantime, please feel free to contact me if you have ideas, feedback or questions about anything that’s happening here in the college. I wish you an outstanding start to our fall semester!  

Dean Ian Robertson