Meet the first candidate for the College of Engineering dean position

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The University of Texas at Austin/THE REVIEW
Gerald E. Speitel Jr. is the first candidate for the new College of Engineering dean.

BY
Senior Reporter

While exiting the 2017-2018 school year, the university continues to make changes throughout each college and program to further the university’s credentials. There is a change going on in the College of Engineering, which is seeking out a new dean for the college.

The first candidate is Gerald E. Speitel Jr., who has served as the associate dean for academic affairs at The University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering since 2008.

The departure of Babatunde Ogunnaike, the current dean, leaves an open spot that the university is looking to fill. The dean of the College of Engineering search comes to an end with meeting the finalists. The university community is invited to meet the five finalists for the position at a series of forums. The College of Engineering held the first forum on May 4. The following four will be held on May 9, 10, 11 and 15 and are all being held in the Trabant University Center Theater from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m, open to all students and staff of the university.

Ogunnaike has held this position in the college since July 2013. As head of the college, Ogunnaike has many responsibilities such continuing to expand and develop the college’s resources, forming plans to expand programs including graduate programs and online programs and increasing the undergraduate and graduate enrollments for the college.

“Obviously President O [Ogunnaike] has made a lot of plans for expanding graduate student population and just the school in general including faculty members, so I really want to see how this dean would really keep the College of Engineering at the forefronts of all that and to see how he would forward out progress,” graduate student Danielle Valcourt said.

According to attendees, they would like to see the new dean continue progress toward the future and not backtrack. The overall goal is to increase the ranking of the College of Engineering in the United States, to make it so more students attend the university and the college continues to expand.

Throughout the presentation, Speitel explained his goals for the upcoming years until 2025, with a four step plan of investing strategically, maximizing impact, getting the message out and inspiring philanthropy.

“To make everything progress and move forward, we have to develop an engineering facilities master plan that analyzes both current space and future needs,” Speitel said.

The end of the forum left audience members with the opportunity to ask questions, at which point many audience members asked questions about Speital’s leadership and management skills. Attendees also asked about the candidate’s credentials and his opinions on the online education system at the University of Texas at Austin. Speitel continued to answer questions about the concerns of the audience, his goals for the school and how he would correlate his time at the University of Texas seemed to be main points of the questions.

The end of the presentation continued to emphasize central goals, such as to “facilitate collaboration within the college, across the university, and with industry partners” and to form a “communications strategy to drive up U.S News peer ranking.”

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