University of Wisconsin College of Engineering Dean Paul Peercy will leave a 13-year tenure at UW behind when he retires in the coming months, he announced Wednesday.
As dean, Peercy developed various education programs, tutoring opportunities and study centers.
Peercy, who has served as the dean since 1999, considers it a great responsibility to deliver high-quality education to engineering students, Associate Dean and Chief Financial Officer Barbara McPherson said.
“Among other things, the engineering college has better labs, hands-on engineering opportunities, learning resources, instructional curricula and student services,” McPherson said in an email to The Badger Herald. “All because of Dean Peercy’s advocacies.”
McPherson said she joined UW partly because her engineering collegues and contacts in the Madison community praised Peercy. His work to improve the school and quality of its education was just a part of doing his job, Peercy said.
“The job of a dean has two parts,” Peercy said. “One, you need to set a well-defined strategy and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Two, you need to recruit top-notch faculty and mentor them so they can reach their full potential.”
The rate of student graduation from the UW School of Engineering has greatly increased since 1999. Peercy said he is most proud of this increase in graduation rates, as well as the ever-improving quality of the faculty and students.
He added one of his main goals as dean was to increase the quality of the engineering faculty with better mentoring, which helps raise the overall quality of education for students.
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Steven Cramer, who has worked with Peercy in the Engineering Department for six years, said Peercy is a forward thinker in preparing engineers for the global economy.
“It has been a pleasure to work with him,” Cramer said in an email to the Herald. “I think you would be hard-pressed to find an engineering dean at a major research university with a stronger dedication and interest in undergraduates and their education.”
Despite his retirement announcement, Peercy has agreed to stay in his position until the Engineering Department is able to hire a new dean.
Peercy has a doctorate in physics from UW and a large amount of professional experience through work with organizations like the National Academy of Engineering and the Global Engineering Council.
“It came down to asking, ‘What is best for the school?’” Peercy said. “Since I have been here 13 years and am now in my 70s, it was time for me to go.”
Although his departure is nearing, Peercy said he looks to the future of the Engineering School with great optimism.
He said the department will continue to create programs to benefit the students as more technology becomes available, and interdisciplinary and cultural breadth will continue to be added as part of the curriculum.
“The path of the department is well-set,” Peercy said. “It won’t change at all, and it will continue to improve.”