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Engineering Impact Report

Diversifying Graduate Enrollment

Shortly after Bob Wilkens took over the newly-created position of associate dean for research and innovation in July 2016, the rapidly changing political climate caused international graduate student enrollment at the University of Dayton to drop significantly.

The University has traditionally relied upon three sources of graduate students:

  • Its students continuing on for master’s degrees, often as part of the 5-year Bachelor's + Master’s Program
  • Engineers from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and local industry seeking advanced degrees
  • The direct admission of qualified international students

A year ago, the University signed a partnership with Shorelight Education — branded as UDayton Global — to recruit international students from new markets. But as that partnership develops, Wilkens, a chemical engineer by training, has put the innovation part of his job title to the test.

The School of Engineering has developed a series of initiatives to boost enrollment, taking advantage of the School’s new U.S. News & World Report ranking as a top 50 graduate engineering program. The School of Engineering has climbed from number 63 to number 47, because of large increases in sponsored research and, most recently, improved peer and employer rankings.

Perhaps the biggest win for the School was approval of 25 new graduate assistant positions that can only be awarded to top students from outside the University. The new lines, which are funded through a partnership with the provost’s office, were distributed among the departments based on each department’s size and research productivity.

“These GA lines give us a tool to attract top students to UD by offering full tuition plus a monthly stipend,” Wilkens said. “While it’s relatively easy for domestic students to obtain full funding once on campus due to the large volume of research here and at the Base (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base), these positions allow us to make offers during the recruitment process.”

Another way the School is diversifying its graduate enrollment stream is by partnering with fellow Catholic universities to offer a 3+2 master’s program in engineering to schools who do not have engineering majors. Ohio Dominican University and Walsh University, located in Ohio, are the first two partner schools.

Students in qualifying majors spend the first three years at their home university and then transfer to UD for their final two years, graduating with a master’s in engineering related to their undergraduate major. Chemistry majors, for example, can obtain a master’s degree in chemical engineering or materials engineering. At capacity, the 3+2 Program is expected to enroll 50 new graduate students per year.

“Students from Walsh and ODU find the same values-oriented educational experience at an institution with a long and rich history of engineering excellence, opportunities for research, and engagement with real-world problem solving,” said University of Dayton School of Engineering Dean Eddy Rojas.

Wilkens hopes to expand the program to two additional universities — one predominantly female school and one historically black university to strengthen the School’s diversity efforts.

The School of Engineering developed initiatives . . . taking advantage of our U.S. News & World Report ranking as a top 50 graduate engineering program . . .

Robert Wilkens, associate dean, research and innovation

School of Engineering


School of Engineering

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300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0254