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CSE Dean addresses possible departure in talk with students

Samuel Mukasa, dean of the University’s College of Science and Engineering, also talked Wednesday about diversity in the school.

Samuel Mukasa, dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering, led a forum Wednesday on the current state of the school. 

At the forum, hosted by the Science and Engineering Student Board, Mukasa addressed his consideration of another job and the diversity of the school’s student body.

Mukasa is one of three finalists for the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs position at the University of Connecticut. 

News of Mukasa’s potential departure from CSE comes two months after his one-year anniversary as the school’s dean. 

Mukasa told students and faculty at the event that his interest in the Connecticut job was family-related. His family currently lives on the East Coast, he said, and the distance has “put a huge strain” on their relationship.

“[I’m] putting my family before my job,” Mukasa said.

SESB Treasurer Logan Karls said he feels Mukasa is “abandoning” CSE, considering he’s only been dean for a little over a year.

“If he does leave, it almost feels like… he’s kind of just using CSE to propel himself to a higher point in his career,” Karls said.

Being a dean is a long-term position, Karls added, and selecting a replacement would require significant time and money.

At the forum, Mukasa also addressed underrepresented multicultural students in CSE.

“They have to be here, or we’re sank as an economy,” Mukasa said to a room of more than 50 students and faculty.

Mukasa said he is a “strong proponent” of increasing University outreach to youth —  specifically to 10- to 12-year-olds in schools with high numbers of multicultural students.

Mobilizing University students to help lead the outreach is necessary to attract young students to science and engineering fields, he said. 

SESB President Raeesa Kabir said more needs to be done to increase the enrollment of multicultural students in CSE. About 15 percent of CSE students identify as students of color, according to fall 2017 enrollment data.

“Multicultural diversity is something that needs to be improved,” Kabir said.

She said she works with several CSE student group leaders to increase diversity through the CSE Outreach Coalition.

Though Karls said he supports outreach programs and efforts in CSE, he hasn’t seen sufficient results.

“[Mukasa’s] main solution to a lot of the issues… was outreach. While I think that is a pretty logical solution, I don’t think that seems to be working,” Karls said.

University outreach is not a “permanent solution” for attracting multicultural students to CSE, he said.

“We need a new angle and new solutions,” Karls said. 

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