Dr. Jenna P. Carpenter named founding dean of engineering school

BUIES CREEK — Dr. Jenna P. Carpenter, a highly-regarded national figure in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) higher education, will be the founding dean of Campbell University’s proposed School of Engineering launching in 2016, Campbell Provost Mark L. Hammond announced April 16.
Currently, Carpenter is the Wayne and Juanita Spinks Endowed Professor, associate dean for undergraduate studies, and director of the Office for Women in Science and Engineering at Louisiana Tech University’s College of Engineering and Science.

In addition, she holds key leadership positions in several prestigious national engineering organizations, including serving as chair of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program. She is also a 2013 American Society for Engineering Education Fellow and a national evaluator for the ABET accreditation program.

“Dr. Carpenter has a lifetime of significant accomplishments that have prepared her extraordinarily well to be the founding dean of Campbell’s new School of Engineering,” Hammond said. “She possesses tremendous personal strengths and experience as an engineering educator, and she has demonstrated unprecedented success as an engineering program administrator at Louisiana Tech, where she has been successfully recruiting, teaching and retaining engineering students for over 25 years.”

Carpenter will begin at Campbell July 1. She will bring with her a wealth of experience and knowledge as she leads and oversees the university’s efforts to bring to fruition its proposal to establish the School of Engineering. When it enrolls its first Bachelor of Science in Engineering students in August 2016 (pending SACSCOC approval), Campbell will be only the second private university in North Carolina to house an engineering school.

The School of Engineering will also be the ninth at Campbell and the third to open in less than five years. Campbell opened the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2013 and announced in March it is transitioning its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to the Catherine W. Wood School of Nursing, the eighth school.

“I am genuinely excited about joining the Campbell family. I am looking forward to working together to build an outstanding engineering school in the Campbell tradition of excellence,” Carpenter said. “I have been truly impressed by the clear vision, wise leadership and solid planning behind this endeavor. This foundation, along with Campbell’s values, dedicated faculty and staff, and strong students, are really what attracted me to the campus.”

A Corsicana, Texas, native, Carpenter earned her bachelor’s in mathematics from Louisiana Tech and her master’s and Ph.D. in mathematics from Louisiana State University, where she was an Alumni Federation Fellow. She joined the Louisiana Tech faculty in 1989 as an assistant professor and quickly rose to hold critical leadership positions.

For 10 years, she was a director in the College of Engineering and Science, which involved serving as department chair for the college’s engineering programs and guiding them through successful re-accreditation. She later led the formulation and implementation of the college’s strategic plan during her five-year tenure as associate dean for administration and strategic initiatives.

In her current role as associate dean of undergraduate studies, Carpenter recruits prospective students to the college’s eight engineering, four science and two engineering technology undergraduate degree programs. She also has broad oversight for the undergraduate curriculum, policies and program across all 14 programs.

Carpenter’s research focuses on integrated STEM curricula and improving the number and success of women in engineering. Projects supported by National Science Foundation grants she has worked on as the principal or co-principal investigator include “Creating a Culture of Success for Women in Engineering and Science” and “A Women in Engineering Knowledge Center: Informing Research, Practice, and Institutional Change.”

“Dr. Carpenter is well attuned with the best practices and emerging trends in undergraduate engineering education,” Hammond said. “She is a personable, engaging and inspiring person with whom I will enjoy working with as we launch what is certain to become a hugely successful engineering program at Campbell.”

Campbell’s Board of Trustees approved establishing an engineering school in October to help fill the need for more engineers in North Carolina. Between 50 to 80 percent of job growth in the United States is dependent on engineers and scientists, according to a recent report; yet only 2.7 percent of all engineers in the U.S. live and work in North Carolina, though it is the 10th largest state in the nation.

The engineering school is expected to enroll about 50 students in 2016 and grow to approximately 250 students by 2023. Initial concentrations for the program will include mechanical and chemical/pharmaceutical engineering, with possible future expansion into areas such as civil and biomedical engineering.

“It’s no secret that we have not been producing enough engineers in our country to meet workforce needs. One of the keys is to help students realize the broad spectrum of opportunities that an engineering degree provides to make a difference in our world and to create solutions for the complex challenges on the horizon,” Carpenter said. “With its location near the Research Triangle Park, its strong programs and facilities in the health sciences and pharmacy, and its personalized approach to education, Campbell is the ideal place to create an innovative, nationally-recognized engineering program to train the engineering leaders of tomorrow.”

A search committee comprised of faculty from Campbell’s College of Arts & Sciences and College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences selected Carpenter from a strong, national field. The search committee worked with Sue May, a principal at Storbeck/Pimentel Executive Search Consultants, to identify candidates. “The search committee is extremely grateful for Dr. May’s and the search firm’s superlative work,” said Hammond, who headed the committee.