New dean poised to lead UW-Madison College of Engineering

April 25, 2013

Last week we had the privilege of hosting professor Ian Robertson, the recently named dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Given our close relationship with the university and the number of Design Concepts staff members who are alumni, there is an understandably high level of interest and passion for the engineering school. We had the chance to introduce Robertson to some of our past work and share some of the collaboration we’ve done with UW-Madison.

It was an engaging and thought-provoking meeting. We talked about initiatives such as the Design Summit and discussed ways to increase a focus on design and an interdisciplinary approach to innovation.

In today’s dynamic academic environment, Robertson, like deans at every college, certainly has his challenges cut out for him. The funding model for higher education — particularly land grant universities — has never been more challenging. State and federal financial support of higher education are likely to erode in the face of government budget difficulties. The decline in funding along with the pace of tuition increases are creating real difficulties.

The funding model for higher education — particularly land grant universities — has never been more challenging.

Nevertheless, there are also areas of tremendous promise and opportunity. Robertson spoke passionately about the need to balance the university’s core research and teaching missions. It will be a very tough job, but I certainly got the impression that Robertson was ready and willing to take it on with passion and energy.

UW-Madison is a tremendous intellectual force and asset. We’ll enjoy watching as Robertson seeks to steer the College of Engineering forward, and we hope we can continue to be actively engaged with the university.