Livesay, grad school dean, is a finalist for engineering dean despite no training in engineering


Joseph Barringhaus

Dennis Livesay speaks to faculty and staff at an open forum in September. Livesay is currently the dean of the Graduate School, associate vice president for Research and Technology and a professor at Wichita State University.

Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Vice President of Research and Technology Transfer Dennis Livesay is the only candidate for dean of the College of Engineering that is employed at Wichita State.

Livesay is one of four finalists for the position. WSU hosted an open forum for members of the university to ask him questions as part of the process of selecting the next dean of the College of Engineering.

Monday, Livesay opened up the discussion by addressing the elephant in the room — that he is not trained as an engineer. Livesay’s background is in chemistry.

Livesay said he saw the position of dean of the College of Engineering as an opportunity.

Livesay laid out a four-point plan for his vision as the next potential dean of the College of Engineering: diversity and inclusion, lower the opportunity cost, grow our research, and maintain the momentum.

“Are we a research university or are we an access-oriented, urban-serving university?” Livesay asked during his presentation. “Are we a traditional college of engineering, or are we a college of engineering looking for opportunities in the cracks between traditional disciplines?”

Having faculty members that represent diverse student backgrounds will better serve the students, Livesay said. He also said that women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM.

One of the issues that Livesay brought up is faculty retention.

In light of the heightened attention that engineering is receiving at WSU, Livesay said one of his goals is to keep the momentum going.

“We cannot be complacent. We cannot back off,” Livesay said. With increased funding, research, and a growing number of graduates in the field, Livesay said one of his goals is to keep the program relevant.