2009 Keynote Speakers: Lewis M. Duncan


Lewis M. Duncan, President, Rollins College, and former dean and professor of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College

The Illiberal Art of Engineering  (click title for pdf)

ABSTACT:  Engineering is the application of science for human benefit.  It is rational, interpretive and purposeful.  This explicitly utilitarian principle stands in contrast to the classical liberal arts discourse of knowledge as its own end.  Indeed, engineering is knowledge applied.  Through engineering education we seek graduates who are not merely reflective, but also reflexive.  However, the modern manifestations of engineering education, far removed from the vocational apprenticeships of the industrial revolution, and of liberal education, also far removed from the academic elitism of its post-enlightenment foundations, today are converging on a shared vision of higher education.  We openly celebrate the intellectual priority of critical reasoning, the pragmatic importance of proficiencies in communication, the translational and transnational character of wisdom, and the essential ideals of global citizenship and responsible leadership in a diverse society.  We strive today not merely for a life of the mind, but for a life that is mindful.  This essay continues that dialogue of cultural reconciliation between the humanities and the sciences, between the pure and the applied, between the past and the future.

BIOGRAPHY:   Lewis M. Duncan was elected president of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, in 2004.  He is former dean and professor of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College and was previously provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Tulsa.  

Dr. Duncan received his bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics and his master’s and doctorate in space physics from Rice University.  As a National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellow, he conducted research at the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center in Puerto Rico.  He subsequently joined the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a research scientist, later becoming a section head in the Division of Earth and Space Sciences.

Following a year as a Carnegie Science Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control, he joined the faculty of Clemson University as associate dean of the College of Sciences.  He was founding director of the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium and remains a fellow of Clemson’s Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs.  He currently serves on the Florida Technology, Research and Scholarship Board.