ASEE Prism Magazine  - November 2002
The ABCs of Engineering
All Things Great and Small
Hard Act to Follow
On Politics
Teaching Toolbox
ASEE Today
Last Word
Back Issues


Licensing Revisited

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 member.

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, and licensure.

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

Jeffrey S. Russell
Chair, Task Committee on Academic
Prerequisites for Professional Practice
Madison, Wis.

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.

Don Milks
Retired Professor, Civil Engineering
Chautauqua, NY