Marian University will launch the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering, offering undergraduate degrees in various engineering disciplines, university officials announced today. Through generous contributions, Marian University will expand in its vision as a Catholic university to offer bachelor of engineering degrees that are rooted in the liberal arts tradition with the goal of graduating a diverse pipeline of talented leaders.
“The Marian University community sees the creation of an innovative engineering school as essential to our unflagging commitment to building a great Catholic university in this great American city, important to the future of Indianapolis, and critical to the dedication we have to our students’ best interests,” Marian University President Daniel J. Elsener said. “Marian’s vision is to graduate transformative leaders for service to the world who emphasize trustworthiness, a healthy approach to life, inquisitiveness, and the skills needed to lead in the twenty-first century. The E. S. Witchger School of Engineering will contribute mightily to this vision.”
Pending approval from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the degree offerings will concentrate in electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering. Marian University will continue to recruit students into the dual-degree program with Purdue University for Fall 2021. The inaugural class for the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering will enter Marian in Fall 2022. Marian University will seek approval from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) which can be obtained after the program produces its first graduating class.
“As president, I have worked closely with our provost, Dr. Alan Silva, and other university leadership to complete a thorough needs assessment in our community and beyond, and it is clear there is a need for more engineering leaders who possess strong liberal art competencies,” Elsener said. “To meet the changing needs of the economy, leaders in the engineering field must understand the technical side of the practice and be able to communicate, problem solve, and collaborate. A top priority is to attract a diverse student population of talented people who are interested in a well-rounded educational experience. Our Indianapolis location provides students with exceptional opportunities to participate in internships and experiential learning opportunities while receiving high-quality instruction.”
The current Marian student population is 63% women and is comprised 30% of students from underrepresented backgrounds. A top priority in the launch is to offer competitive scholarships to attract the diverse population needed for future engineers and graduate these students into high-need positions. Marian has experienced a 40% growth over the past four years in STEHM programs—Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, Exercise and Sports Science—while doubling the growth in our Dual-Degree Engineering program with Purdue University.
“With the great work we are doing at our new Walker Center for Ethics and growing interest in STEHM programs we are well-positioned at this time to expand our degree offerings,” Elsener said. “In the Witchger family we found the ideal partners with the work ethic, dedication to excellence, and commitment to innovation that we teach our students. The Witchger family’s commitment to responsible stewardship and generous sharing of resources makes it a distinct honor and blessing to name the Marian University Engineering School in honor of Eugene S. Witchger.”
The Witchger family owns and operates Indianapolis-based Marian, Inc., a global provider of custom, die-cut, flexible component parts for the medical, electronics, and automotive industries. Founded in 1954, Marian Inc. has 10 locations throughout North America, Asia and Europe.
“The Witchger family is extremely honored to partner with Marian University for several reasons,” said William Witchger, President of Marian Inc. “First, our family and company know the value and importance of highly educated engineers, not only for Marian Inc., but for the city of Indianapolis, state of Indiana, and the Midwest region. Secondly, we know Marian University has a deep tradition of producing graduates who have a faith-based education grounded in a liberal arts setting. Couple this with a first class engineering experience, and we are confident Marian engineering graduates will be exceptional leaders in the engineering industry. Thirdly, we have the utmost respect for President Elsener and the entire leadership team, including the Board of Trustees. Lastly, we are honored to memorialize our dad and grandfather, Eugene S. Witchger, in this manner. Having his name associated with Marian’s engineering school will be a tremendous way to ensure his legacy lives on forever. The Witchger family is thankful for this opportunity and we look forward to building one of the premiere engineering schools in the Midwest.”
The fundraising goal for creating this innovative engineering school is $50 million, of which just over $25 million has been committed to date through the support of seven donors. Priorities during the start-up include facilities and equipment, endowed scholarships, endowed faculty positions, and other key needs such as curriculum design, and student recruitment.
“To build a distinguished school of engineering consistent with Marian’s values and culture, we seek to hire an entrepreneurial dean candidate who is aggressively aspirational and possesses values consistent with Marian University,” Elsener said.
Tom Enneking, Ph.D., Marian University Provost Emeritus and former administrator and Professor of Engineering at Tri-State University, currently Trine University, who holds a bachelor of science from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a master of science from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Notre Dame, will work closely with Dr. Silva to initiate the creation of the school, direct the hiring, and oversee the program development.
“We will start our national search for a dean immediately and look to have them start in the summer of 2021,” Enneking said. “Additional personnel will follow with the expectation of 7-10 new faculty and staff when the school is fully operational. The specific programs will be developed during the next two years depending on the faculty expertise and the availability of facilities and equipment.”
Marian University will continue the dual-degree option with Purdue University for students who are interested in specialty engineering programs but also want the Marian experience.
“We have worked with Purdue University on our dual-degree engineering program for more than eight years and are very proud of our current students and those who have already graduated. We believe we can develop a unique four-year program retaining the technical quality and competency while enhancing the transportable skills demanded by employers and required for lifelong learning,” said Enneking.
Students interested in enrolling in the E. S. Witchger School of Engineering at Marian University may apply at marian.edu.