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Dean Paul S. Peercy: Educational investments

Students studying

Engineering students study in the Mechanical Engineering Building. Photo: David Nevala.

Over the past decade, the college faced an increasing need for greater investment in undergraduate excellence, especially in cost-intensive areas such as hands-on engineering and new technology. Peercy responded in 2008 by winning UW Board of Regents approval for an engineering differential tuition to continue to meet core standards of excellence. The differential tuition program allowed the college to substantially grow undergraduate enrollment—from 3,150 in fall 2008 to about 3,750 in fall 2011—in order to meet the growing national demand for engineers. The program reduced bottlenecks in high-demand courses through hundreds of new sections, reducing the time to degree. Investments targeted top student priorities such as hands-on experience, mentoring and instructional innovation.

The Undergraduate Learning Center represents another important investment in student success. Founded in 2000, the center is meant to provide the direct academic support students need in the first two years to navigate the challenging pre-engineering curriculum. Rather than the traditional view of pre-engineering being a “weeding out” process, Peercy was determined to give all students interested in engineering the tools to succeed. Students receive peer-to-peer tutoring in more than 40 courses, including math, chemistry, physics, statistics and engineering. Each year, thousands of these year-round, one-on-one tutoring sessions have enhanced the undergraduate experience and led to significantly higher retention and graduation rates in the college.

Brian Mattmiller