Day: June 10, 2019

First Academic Year as Dean

David Hemmer and faculty putting a sash on a grad student at commencement.Greetings from the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Tech!

I completed my first academic year as Dean of Sciences and Arts at our graduation May 4, when more than 1000 graduates walked across the stage of a packed MacInnes Ice Arena on a beautiful sunny day. On May 3 our Board approved the new College of Computing, which goes live on July 1. While I am sad to see our wonderful Computer Science Department leave CSA, the new College will position Michigan Tech for growth and success in an era where computing and data science dominate so many aspects of our lives.

Things are much quieter on campus now, which leaves time to reflect on the past year and plan for an exciting year ahead. We will have at least eight new tenure-track faculty joining our College in the fall, with our Humanities chair search and biology search still underway. We are excited to welcome Adam Meckler as our new Jazz director, replacing the legendary Mike Irish. You can listen to his smooth sounds at

Freshmen deposits in the college are up 11% from last year, thanks in part to our exciting new Sustainability Science and Society degree. Thanks to all our alumni and friends who help with recruiting, and feel free to contact me if you’d be willing to help in your area.

Our student, Alyssa Smith, exercise science major, was recognized as the top undergraduate kinesiology student in the nation! Over in biology our superstar sophomore, Tessa Steenwinkel, won a prestigious Goldwater fellowship. Tessa has been working in the lab of Professor Thomas Werner since her first day on campus! Many of our undergraduate research opportunities on campus, both during the year and over the summer, are supported by alumni donations. Our faculty are busy too. Professors Roman Sidortsov and Tim Scarlett received national media attention for their grant to study the feasibility of using abandoned mines for hydroelectric pumped storage, essentially turning the mine into a giant battery!

I departed late on Easter for a wonderful week long trip along Interstate 10 from Pensacola to Mobile, Houston and Phoenix meeting many of our successful and generous alumni.

Planning is underway for our new H-STEM building. This beautiful laboratory building will be near the current Chemistry building, which will also be renovated to host our departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, and Biomedical Engineering. Groundbreaking should be in fall 2020.

Critical to everything we do are our alumni and friend donors. All your donations to our departments, scholarships, and the general fund are vitally important to our success. For those interested in supporting the greatest needs of the College, we have established a “Dean’s Priority Fund”.

With state support representing only about 16% of MTU’s budget, your gifts make a huge difference in the lives of our students and faculty every day. Thank you!  If you are ever back in town I hope you will stop by, say hello, and share with me your MTU story. Please do not hesitate to email me any time at to share your MTU experience or make suggestions.