The core disciplines of the sciences, and mathematical and computational sciences, are the foundation of all that takes place in any university. In an institute of technology, they play an especially important role, underpinning as they do the scientific method and providing the knowledge that is the raw fuel for new technology and innovation.
Science at IIT has a distinguished history, dating back to the Armour and Lewis institutes. Even in the earliest days, to-be famous names, such as mathematician George Birkhoff and physicist Lee de Forest, were associated with IIT. Through the 21st century, science at IIT evolved in step with the overall evolution of the fields, through the revolution of quantum science, through the advent of computational science and computers, to the big science and big data of the 21st century. During these years, IIT has been home to luminaries such as Nobelists Herb Simon, Susan Solomon, and Leon Lederman as well as many other students and faculty who have distinguished themselves in the sciences or have taken the rigor of their IIT education to success in diverse areas outside of their original disciplines. This history is the backdrop on which we look to the future evolution of the new College of Science.
The new College of Science will educate outstanding math- and science-oriented students who want to make a difference in the world. Many of our alumni speak of the rigor of the education they received at IIT. That rigor equipped them well for the future and its opportunities. There is, however, another key ingredient: relevance of the knowledge gained here. This too will continue to be the hallmark of the IIT education in the College of Science. We have been working hard to redefine the educational pathways that our students can follow while at IIT. The core undergraduate programs in mathematics and the sciences will always be of a quality and depth such that our graduates are equipped to gain entry to and succeed in the finest graduate programs in their discipline. We also believe, however, that the disciplinary pathway is not the only one. Our programs now allow students to combine their bachelor's program with master's -level programs such that both degrees can be reached in a total of as little as five years. These new programs can be pathways into the professions, pathways into the world of business and technology, or into the ever expanding world of applications of digital computers and computation. We have already added new masters programs in applied mathematics and data science.
At the center of all this and key to our future are the faculty. IIT seeks to combine the best features of a small, elite private institution with the intellectual and scholarly climate of a major research institution. We favor faculty with a passion for knowledge creation and with an equal passion for the sharing of that knowledge with our students. Our current faculty members are distinguished by their research achievements. They also are committed educators and mentors to our students. Not only in the classroom, but also through the opportunities our students have to engage in research and other project-based learning experiences.
IIT's position in the science research community is heavily leveraged by our presence in the global city of Chicago. With two national laboratories and other world-class universities, Chicago is a powerful draw for the best and brightest. We have been able to recruit some outstanding faculty members and, over the past four years, we have renewed almost a quarter of the total College of Science faculty—bringing new energy and ideas into an already distinguished body.
The core buildings for the College of Science—Engineering 1, Life Sciences, and Stuart Building—have supported both teaching and research for nearly 50 years. The growth of research at IIT over this period has placed severe stress on both the infrastructure and visible parts of the buildings, and they are now in sore need of restoration and renovation. This will be a time-consuming and expensive challenge—but one that we must undertake.
The theme of the ongoing capital campaign, "Fueling Innovation," could not be more apt for science. Core scientific knowledge is the raw fuel without which the process of innovation cannot run. Discovery and knowledge precede application and invention which, coupled with the needs of the market place, finance, business and the law, lead to innovation. Innovation has provided the economic growth of our country and therefore its security. In an increasingly competitive world, the excellence of the education of the young people who will provide for the future is essential. Through its graduates, IIT has been a significant contributor to the cycle of innovation and, with the College of Science underpinning this cycle, will continue to do so in the future.
Dean, College of Science