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Interview with Richard Miller, President of the Olin College of Engineering

Pt 10930

Interview with Richard Miller, President of the Olin College of Engineering

Richard Miller has had one of the toughest jobs in higher education. The Olin Foundation tapped him a dozen years ago to create an engineering college on a hilltop in the Boston suburb of Needham. When Miller started, there were no buildings, no faculty, no curriculum, no students. 

The foundation’s mandate: design a boldly original model for a 21st century school whose graduates would be not just accomplished engineers but world-beater entrepreneurs and leaders. 

Forty-five percent of your students are women, a much higher proportion than you would find at other top engineering schools. Do you predict that your women graduates will turn out to be leaders and entrepreneurs to the same extent as the men?

This question comes up a lot at board meetings and elsewhere. Gee, it’s unusual that you have so many women here. Is this a good thing? Are the women going to be as successful as the men? So we did a little back-of-the envelope analysis of what we know about the first five graduating classes. 

Based on the few metrics that we have already, it turns out that the women are overrepresented—way overrepresented—in success and leadership. For example, Olin is one of the top producers of Fulbright award winners in the country. Something like 80 percent of our Fulbright awards have gone to women. A high proportion of our graduates who are selected to be National Science Foundation fellows are women.The women who are graduating from Olin are doing very well.


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