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USD's new Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering officially inaugurated

University of San Diego’s new Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering was inaugurated Thursday in a ceremony at the Joan B. Kroc School for Peace and Justice Studies, where students and faculty thanked USD trustee Darlene Marcos Shiley for the $20 million donation that made the school possible. She endowed the school to honor her late husband, Donald Shiley, co-inventor of the Bjork-Shiley artificial heart valve.

Chell Roberts, former executive dean of Arizona State University’s College of Technology and Innovation, is the school’s founding dean. Roberts said he has high hopes for the new school, formerly the department of engineering. He and Shiley said they hope to make the Shiley-Marcos School a top 10 undergraduate engineering school; it is currently ranked 22nd. Roberts has already begun by taking faculty to visit top 10 engineering schools, such as Bucknell University. He also wants to build a program through which students can collaborate with local companies.

“It’s really important because they’re going to provide projects for the students that are very realistic and authentic projects, where we’re doing something like building satellites that shoot into space, which is really upping our game,” Roberts said.

Darlene Marcos Shiley and Chell Roberts, the new dean of the new Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering. Courtesy photo

Roberts also envisions building “maker space,” which he described as “space where students can invent and create and envision. It’s different from just a classroom and a lab. It’s highly communal space.”

In addition, the school will expand its curriculum, student body and faculty. There are 360 students in the engineering program, and about 20 faculty and staff members. Roberts hopes to expand the student body to about 600 or 700, and plans to hire more faculty this year. Additions to the curriculum may include a degree in software engineering, a minor in bioengineering, and a minor or courses in sustainability.

Shiley has a long history of donating to USD. The former chairwoman of the board of trustees and her husband gave $10 million to build the Donald P. Shiley Center for Science and Technology and more than $1.5 million for The Old Globe/USD Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Arts program. She has also donated to KPBS, the Scripps Clinic, the UCSD Shiley Eye Center, the UCSD Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and many other San Diego institutions.

“The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering is particularly important to me from the standpoint of my late husband and the incredible talent he had, to continue that kind of thinking and to create more people like Donald,” Shiley said. “Nothing makes you happier or prouder than knowing you’ve had that kind of long-lasting effect.”

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