Many of you have heard me speak of Chapman as a student-centered institution. This expression is now ensconced in our vision statement, and I care about it because I believe it is a great description of what we are all about.
It means that everything we do is evaluated, discussed and implemented on the basis of how it may improve the experience of our students. Here’s an example of this dedication, and of how this principle can create programs that could become models for other universities.
We’re putting the finishing touches on a new program that our Schmid College of Science and Technology will launch in the fall. It’s called the Grand Challenges Initiative, and in the words of Schmid College Dean Andrew Lyon, it is designed “to mentor and grow the next generation of leaders who will be well-prepared to push the boundaries of our knowledge and drive technological innovation.”
Our students will not simply take a sequence of classes, but will be guided by the desire to solve a very specific, and highly complex, grand challenge. They will take on this challenge for the entire period they are at Chapman.
This approach “provides our students with a modern view of problem-solving in our technologically focused world,” Dean Lyon adds. “Our students are encouraged to partner with faculty in research, and to experience the exhilaration of making new discoveries.”
This approach is also the foundation of another remarkable interdisciplinary endeavor that will begin this fall: the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy. You can read more about the institute on page 8 of this issue of Chapman Magazine.
What is remarkable about these two programs is the deliberate way in which we are now not simply supporting the integration of research and teaching, but in fact developing new programs whose essence, structure and design are informed by this philosophy.
This leads me to the last point I want to make. One of my dreams, since my arrival at Chapman a decade ago, has been to establish a school of engineering. There is an alarming gap between the excellent students who apply to existing engineering schools and those who find a spot. This void needs to be filled.
So we are in the early stage of thinking what kind of school we could create here at Chapman. It is easy to imagine a Chapman University School of Engineering, small in size but huge in ambition, that will develop engineers trained in teamwork, discovery and problem-solving – qualities that will make them an asset to the nation.
Pursuing ambitious goals has helped Chapman move up dramatically over the past 25 years, and we are certainly not slowing down now. We are more than ready to meet the grand challenges before us.