In the exchange of letters in the September 2002 issue
of Prism regarding "To License or Not to License," it is
instructive to note that all American medical school graduates are required
to pass a national medical licensing examination. Why should engineering
graduates be treated any differently?
Theodore J. Sheskin, P.E.
Professor, Industrial Engineering
Cleveland State University
Reviewing Post-tenure Review
I am the dean of engineering at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
I have just finished Linda Creighton's article "Tenure Under
the Microscope" in the April issue of Prism.
She says that at one end of the spectrum is my school, where post-tenure
reviews are mandatory (which is true) and their intention is largely
punitive (which is false). Unfortunately she misrepresented the actual
facts. Our evaluations are mandatory but they are not punitive. In fact,
the purpose is to provide mechanisms for improvement of the faculty
At UMass-Amherst, long-term associate professors and full professors
are usually evaluated every seven years. The faculty member under evaluation
writes a statement reviewing his or her progress of the last seven years
and presents a plan for the future. The personnel committee of the faculty
member's department evaluates the statement and recommends acceptance
or revision. If accepted, there may be a financial commitment to help
the faculty member in teaching or research. Revision is required until
the personnel committee and finally the department head and dean accept
the plan. There is no punitive aspect here. If the faculty member does
not carry out the plan or the plan is not accepted, further action may
occur. However, this action must start with normal procedures for dealing
with faculty, which is a separate (and labor intensive) process.
I have handled more than 10 reviews in the engineering college and
have not seen any tendency to be punitive. We have supported several
faculty with money and, on occasion, time off for the purpose of improvement
according to the faculty member plans.
I'm sorry that you lacked the facts and painted my university
in the way you did with regard to post-tenure review. Hopefully in the
future you will look into the details before you make such statements.
Joseph I. Goldstein
Dean, College of Engineering
University of Massachusetts
Linda Creighton responds:
In characterizing the review process at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst,
I compared it with policies in place at a number of engineering schools.
My research found that the mandatory post-tenure review policy adopted
at UMass-Amherst in 1999 could affect professors' salaries and
promotion opportunities. Across the spectrum of consequences from post-tenure
evaluations, the University of Massachusetts had one of the more far-reaching
approaches taken to this complex challenge.
I hope that readers of the article concluded that the goal of post-tenure
review is always to improve faculty and retain the highest possible
quality of education, particularly at a school of the stature of the
University of Massachusetts.
Support for a Quiet Revolutionary
After reading the profile of William Wulf ("A Quiet Sort of Revolutionary")
in the September issue of Prism, I was reminded of Dr. Wulf's
keynote speech at ASEE's annual meeting in Montreal. I left the
meeting very encouraged. This was the first time I've heard a
key leader in our profession clearly articulate the simple fact—we
need to reform our educational system or face the consequences of being
irrelevant in the future. While he "believes that eventually the
master's will become the first professional degree in engineering...[he]
admits that he is not sure how we will get there."
In October of 2001, the American Society of Civil Engineer's
(ASCE) Board proposed one option when they adopted a policy supporting
"the concept of the master's degree or equivalent (MOE)
as a prerequisite for licensure and the practice of civil engineering
at a professional level." This "raise the bar" policy
will result in significant changes in civil engineering education and,
perhaps, the education of other engineers.
ASCE also formed a committee that is pro-actively working on three
parallel, complex, and long-term (10 years and beyond) implementation
initiatives. The initiatives include body of knowledge/curricula, accreditation,
ASCE is committed to raising the education bar. Internal and external
support of the effort is growing. Stakeholder reaction is shifting.
Implementation is underway. Will it be quick? No. But will it be? Yes.
For more information, please visit the ASCE Web site at www.asce.org/raisethebar.
Jeffrey S. Russell
Chair, Task Committee on Academic
Prerequisites for Professional Practice
I completely enjoyed the article on William Wulf. The piece was well
written and very clear. However, what I liked most is that my philosophy
on engineering education is very similar to that of Dr. Wulf. I hope
he is able to effect some changes. We need fewer Ph.D.s teaching and
more engineers who have a master's and at least 10 years of good
experience—and who want to teach.
Retired Professor, Civil Engineering