Confessions of a college grad

Can you name the year your college or university was founded?

If most people are like me, they probably didn't know their alma mater's start date until well after graduation when an anniversary invitation arrived in the mail.

"Happy 150!"

This won't be the case for the students at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. When the Needham, Mass., school opens two years from now, 2001 will be firmly etched in their minds. After all, theirs will be one of the first colleges of the new millennium.

If all goes as planned, Olin's launch will also provide the answer to an interesting higher-ed question: Is it possible to introduce a successful college when schools are competing intensely for top students and the Internet is competing to be a school?

Our cover story addresses that issue, and takes it a step further: Is there room for another engineering college?

The National Science Foundation reports that big changes are needed in the way the subject is taught. What worked after World War II when America was focused on defense won't cut it in 21st-century workplaces.

Developing an approach that attracts and keeps students interested is on the to-do list of Olin College administrators -along with finding nameplates for the doors and placating neighbors disturbed by bulldozers.

Between now and the time the first students arrive, writer Mark Clayton will occasionally check in on the school's progress. That way, even if you can't remember when your own college opened, you'll know when Olin did.

* E-mail campbellk@csps.coM

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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