Duluth, MN – James P. Riehl, Dean of Swenson College of Science and Engineering (SCSE), has announced that he will retire on June 30, 2014.
“I’m leaving the Dean's office on a high note,” said Riehl. “It’s been an incredible journey.”
During his tenure, Riehl set high standards for faculty and student success and worked hard to promote innovative and effective teaching and world-class research and scholarship. As a result, UMD’s science and engineering programs have grown both in numbers and quality. The future is bright, especially with plans for a new Chemical Sciences and Advanced Materials (CSAM) building on the horizon.
Riehl’s career has been filled with accomplishments. From fall 2000, when he arrived at UMD, to this year, undergraduate enrollment grew 49 percent from 2,051 to 3,047 students and graduate enrollment grew 110 percent from 142 to 301 students. The number of degrees awarded grew 85 percent from 298 to 552; ACT scores climbed; and 18 additional tenure-track faculty were hired. Also, 12 new programs were added: seven new undergraduate degrees, four masters degrees, and a Ph.D degree. In addition, the number of chemistry majors has doubled, due in a large part to the presence of the pharmacy program on campus.
While this is already a lengthy list of Riehl’s accomplishments, it doesn’t end there. The massive growth couldn’t have taken place without new facilities, and Riehl’s hand guided UMD’s construction of two new buildings, the 110,000 square-foot, $33 million, Swenson Science Building in 2005 and the 34,000 square-foot, $15 million, Swenson Civil Engineering Building in 2010.
Riehl is now helping to plan for the Chemical Sciences and Advanced Materials (CSAM) building, which will provide room for new areas of educational and research programs â€” polymers and composites, as well as newer, safer labs for students and faculty. “The next decade will be the decade of materials,” Riehl said. “It also makes great sense that we develop expertise and programs in materials, since many local companies are working in this area.” Professionals from companies including Cirrus, BendTec, and Enbridge have indicated a materials engineering building and program would be a big step in providing the region with talented people and equipment.
This new building will also allow the Swenson College of Science and Engineering to recruit additional faculty and admit more students. “We are completely full,” Riehl said. In both the science and engineering departments there is no space to accommodate research labs for new faculty. With the addition of the CSAM building there will be room for an additional 250 STEM students.
Although he is stepping down as dean, Riehl looks forward to returning to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty on a half-time basis, finishing two books that he has been working on, and getting back to teaching.