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August 16, 2019 Likes Comments

Olin college president to step down next year

Rick Miller | Olin College

Olin College President Rick Miller, who has led the school since its start, will be stepping down from the position at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. The Needham-based school is now searching for his replacement. 

"It has been the greatest privilege of my career to play a leading role in the establishment of Olin College," Miller said in a statement. "When I first arrived, Olin College was not yet a place - it was still a vision and an aspiration of the F.W. Olin Foundation. An opportunity to create something as important as this happens much less frequently than once in a lifetime."

Olin isn't alone in this transition. Stephen Spinelli just took over as president of adjacent Babson College earlier this month after Kerry Healey announced her resignation a little more than a year ago.

Miller was appointed as president in 1999 to help create the unique engineering school. A group of 30 student "partners" joined for a special pre-freshman year in 2001 with a first full academic class of 75 students starting in August 2002.

Olin College started as an experiment to educate engineers differently. At the time, the typical engineering student received a thorough technical education but lacked the necessary teamwork, project design and communication skills needed in industry. In just 20 short years, the principles on which an Olin education is founded—design thinking, collaborative teamwork and a gender-balanced student population—are now widely emulated throughout the world in engineering and STEM institutions.

Today Olin College holds a No. 3 ranking on the US News and World Report rankings for undergraduate engineering education and is listed consistently in Princeton Review's Best Colleges Guide. A report commissioned by MIT also named Olin College a top leader in engineering education globally.

“While Rick’s leadership role in the creation and development of Olin is obvious, it is harder to calculate the effect he has had on undergraduate engineering education more broadly, but it has clearly been significant,” said Ken Stokes, chair of the Olin Board of Trustees. “The Olin community will be eternally grateful for his visionary and selfless leadership.”

During the past 10 years of Miller’s presidency, more than 2,800 individual visitors representing more than 830 educational and other institutions from around the world have visited Olin through its collaboratory program, where educators looking to spark change in their own institutions come to Olin for inspiration and guidance.

Among the early graduates was the team that founded BigBelly Solar. The company is still based in the N-Squared area and has its waste management products around the world.

Miller said Olin is “full of exciting opportunities for expanding our impact and leadership as an institution, not only in the transformation of engineering education, where the work is not finished, but in other areas as well. For Olin there is more—and new—work to be done.”

The Board of Trustees convened a committee to conduct the search for Miller’s successor.


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