By Rebecca E. Jones
Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Engineering is now the VCU College of Engineering. This change reflects the college’s increase in programs, research, faculty and student census, and supports its mission to advance a collaborative, creative and entrepreneurial engineering culture.
College leaders said the growing scope of VCU’s academic programs in engineering — and its robust sponsored research program with collaborations across the Monroe Park and VCU Health campuses, and the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park — are in keeping with its designation as a college.
“Since 2013, our faculty numbers have doubled, and our extramural research funding has quadrupled,” said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Chair and dean of the VCU College of Engineering. “Becoming the VCU College of Engineering recognizes the rapid growth during the last five years and positions us to continue our forward trajectory.”
VCU defines a college as a large academic unit with a broad scope of degree-granting programs covering multiple disciplines. The university’s 22 year-old engineering college now offers six undergraduate degrees. It also has six master’s programs, as well as a Master of Product Innovation degree affiliated with the VCU da Vinci Center. The college offers five doctoral programs in engineering.
The college houses five interdisciplinary centers and institutes: the VCU Institute for Engineering and Medicine, the Nanomaterials Core Characterization Facility, the C. Kenneth and Dianne Harris Wright Virginia Microelectronics Center and the Medicines for All Institute.
The advancement in status from school to college also underscores VCU’s broadening platforms to connect engineering research, student engagement and degree programs with economic development and community partnerships. Recent examples of these intersections include a $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish the Medicines for All Institute and a major gift from Altria to foster the college’s development of a maker culture, which promotes active, hands-on, collaborative learning. A new 133,000 square-foot Engineering Research Building is set to break ground this summer and open in 2020. The facility will support advanced research, student innovation and economic development initiatives.
John D. Leonard II, Ph.D., executive associate dean of the College of Engineering, said the change sets the stage for continued increases in engineering enrollment, faculty and facilities.
“The title change to college recognizes the breadth and scope of our activities and more clearly communicates the expansive role that we play in the region and the commonwealth,” he said.