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Phil Cornwell
 

Phil Cornwell had to borrow a tie for his formal interview to become Rose-Hulman's Vice President for Academic Affairs this summer. He had no need for the neck garment during his 22 years as a mechanical engineering professor.

"When I was a professor I always told my students that ties were evil and somehow cut off the creative thought processes in the brain," he jokes, taking time to playfully tug at his necktie that now has become a part of his campus wardrobe.

  Phil File
   

Cornwell is Rose-Hulman's academic visionary and cheerleader, hoping to bring support and creative ideas from alumni, corporations, foundations, and academic organizations to ensure the college remains on the cutting edge of educational innovation.

Although Rose-Hulman has taken one of its most dynamic teachers out of the classroom, it has become significantly stronger through Cornwell's leadership skills, attention to detail, charm and appreciation for the educational process.

"Phil's passion for our mission will become instrumental as we develop a better understanding of Rose-Hulman's place in the dynamically changing environment of higher education," says President Matt Branam of Cornwell's appointment in July.

Cornwell hit the ground running. He has enjoyed learning about the many exciting things happening in all academic departments across campus, contributing to the college's administrative leadership, and helping set a course for an exciting future.

"I don't know of any other college that has a clearer focus on its mission-educating its students-than we do. My job is to ensure that we always have a great mission, great faculty, and great students," Cornwell says. "The primary measure of Rose- Hulman's success should always be the success of its students."

Cornwell is one of a select group of Rose- Hulman professors to have earned the Dean's Outstanding Teacher Award and the Board of Trustees Outstanding Scholar Award. He has had the best paper and presentation in the mechanics division at five American Society of Engineering Education annual conferences. He also is a former recipient of the Society of Automotive Engineers' Ralph R. Teetor Education Award as an outstanding young engineering educator, and he received the Rose-Hulman Triangle Fraternity's Teacher of the Year Award.

"I miss teaching and the first day of classes this year was a sentimental time for me," he says. "However, I am ready and looking for a new challenge.

"Becoming vice president seemed to be a great opportunity to help the school in a larger role. I'm committed to keeping us on the cutting edge of educational horizons and being a leader in engineering education," he says.

Cornwell believes that the college needs to have a broader impact on undergraduate engineering, science, and math education through innovation, cross-disciplinary projects, sustainability awareness, and leadership development.

"We produce excellent engineers, mathematicians, and scientists. But the world is changing. Our students need to have a better understanding of the global economy and the international nature of business," he said. "We need to help our students be those innovators that make a difference in the future. So, while the basic technical skills that we teach are always going to be important, there are other aspects of a Rose-Hulman education such as international experiences and business acumen that we need to strengthen.

"One of our key challenges as educators is to help our students be lifelong learners. We teach our students a lot of subjects, and we give them lots of great handson and project experiences. However, we need to be more deliberate in how we teach them how to learn. We also need to help them develop even stronger communication and leadership skills than we already do for them to be successful in a highly competitive marketplace," he says.

Cornwell is encouraged by the state-ofthe- art products being developed at Rose- Hulman Ventures. He sees the opening of the Student Innovation Center and the Home for Environmentally Responsible Engineering program as new initiatives that will help pave the way for Rose- Hulman's bright future.

"There's a lot of excitement about the future on campus," he said. "If you're interested in undergraduate engineering, science and math education, this is The Best place to be in the whole world. This is the place where things are happening. If anyone can figure out how to do things better, it will be us." ■