Dr. Faller Officially Takes The Reins As Dean of the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering.
On his first official day as Dean of the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, we walked around the Engineering Key with Dr. Roland Faller and talked about who he is and what the students can expect from his leadership.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town called Elzach in the Black Forest and my earring is a sign of my hometown.
What was your favorite thing to do when you were younger?
I did a lot of cross-country skiing. I grew up in a place where that was typical. I even did it competitively in high school.
When did you decide a career in academia was for you?
I studied physics at university and realized I was interested in research, so I got my Ph.D. and I wanted to continue doing research, so I did my post-doc and came to the U.S. to Wisconsin, and then I applied for a faculty position. There's not really one point in my career that I wanted to do academia, it kind of developed in my research and doing new things.
What got you interested in engineering?
That's a very good question because I'm not an engineer by training. The research and the work I'm doing has naturally led me into chemical engineering and material science, so my interests are how materials work and just the fundamentals of it.
What interested you most about Texas Tech?
I really believe strongly in public education, and this is a big institution that is strong in research and in teaching. Students at Texas Tech aren't just numbers we make money from, we really believe in offering them a strong education and a foundation for their future.
How have your career experiences helped get you here today?
I did a lot of different things over the past 20 years, particularly in California in an administrative capacity. I've traveled quite a bit, I've taught many different things and I've collaborated with many different people, this brings it all together. It's always about the people and the interactions. Whenever you meet somebody new you learn from them. Get to know as many people as you can, ask many questions, and have as many experiences as you can.
How many years of experience do you have in faculty and in leadership?
I became a faculty member for the first time in 2002. From a leadership experience, I probably started when I became chair of the graduate program and that was in 2008 and then I became department chair in 2014.
What is your vision for the college?
I think the vision is to do research and teach. To make Texas Tech the best it can be. To be rooted in the local environment and have the vision to solve the problems of the 21st century. To enable all students to contribute and to solve these problems.
What are your short-term goals for the college?
The first thing to do is to get the best ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accreditation for the college possible. That also means, of course, showing that we care about our students and that we use the concept of continuous improvement to improve their student experience. On the other hand, improving our research stature, making it more collaborative and working together. We want this college to have a research collaborative experience for the students and all the faculty.
What are the long-term goals for the college?
To bring the stature of the college up to where it should be. The college is an underrated entity. It is better than its reputation and one of the main things we must work on is to make it better known, which then enables us to collaborate and work with other institutions, attract great faculty, attract new students and to be the best Texas Tech it can be.
What can students expect from your leadership?
I think the main thing is that the students are the center of everything that we are doing. The public institution has the student as its focus. The students should feel empowered and prepared for the challenges that the world is giving them. I always have an open door. If there is anything we can do for them they should always let us know. On the other hand, an engineering degree is not easy. We expect the students to work hard, but we are working hard for them and with them.
Here at Texas Tech our slogan is “From Here, It's Possible”, what is your vision to bring that phrase to life?
To be student-focused, enable the students that they make things possible together with us.
Dr. Roland Faller was appointed Dean of the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering in August 2023.
Prior to his appointment as Dean, Faller served as Executive Associate Dean of Engineering at UC Davis where he was the designated representative of the college when the dean wasn't available.
Photo Credit: Lacy Oliver