The Saint Martin’s University community welcomes David H. Olwell, Ph.D., as professor and dean of the Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering. Olwell brings with him 25 years of experience on the faculty of West Point and the Naval Postgraduate School, where he also successfully led and significantly expanded the Department of Systems Engineering while serving as department chair.
“I am delighted to have joined Saint Martin’s University,” says Olwell, a Seattle native who started in the position August 15. “It is exciting to have the chance to build on the initial successes of the University’s Engineering Initiative, and to help shape and grow the Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering as we move forward."
“I have really enjoyed the faculty, staff and students I have met and continue to meet, and I see my job as helping set the conditions for all to be fully successful in their academic and professional endeavors,” Olwell says. “To flourish, we need to understand our external environment and position ourselves to be the best value for our students, while keeping in mind and vigorously supporting the Benedictine and Catholic values that distinguish us.”
Olwell’s family shares a history with the University and Saint Martin’s Abbey. His paternal grandmother’s brothers, Father Thomas “Russ” Hanley, O.S.B., and Father Maurice “Dick” Hanley, O.S.B., attended Saint Martin’s; both monks were ordained at Saint Martin’s Abbey; and Father Russ Hanley was a faculty member at Saint Martin’s for decades after his ordination in 1926. Cousins of Olwell’s mother were also students at Saint Martin’s.
During his five-year term as chair of the systems engineering department at NPS, Olwell was responsible for major program development, marketing, faculty recruitment and faculty development. Under Olwell’s leadership, the department grew from a handful of graduate students to 400; from two faculty members to 31 and the department’s research program expanded from zero to more than $3 million last year. The departmental budget also increased from less than $500,000 to $6.7 million.
“I know how to build and sustain high-quality engineering programs from scratch,” Olwell says. In its annual rankings of the top graduate schools in the nation, U.S. News and World Report this year listed the systems engineering department as 20th in the industrial, manufacturing and systems engineering category.
Olwell was the co-principal investigator on a major multi-million dollar research project from 2009-2014 that defined the systems engineering body of knowledge and developed the reference curriculum for graduate system engineering education. He led a team of 70 academics and industry experts from around the world. There were two significant publications as a result. Together with Art Pyster, Ph.D., of the Stevens Institute of Technology, his co-lead, Olwell was recognized by the International Council on Systems Engineering in 2013 for these efforts.
“Dr. David Olwell is a seasoned academic with extensive leadership experience in higher education; he is also a successful teacher-scholar with significant grant and research accomplishments,” says Molly Smith, Ph.D., provost and professor of English. “I look forward to working closely with Dave as we continue to extend the reach and reputation of the Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering.”
Olwell earned a doctorate in statistics with a minor in industrial engineering, a master’s degree in statistics and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the U.S. Military Academy.
Olwell is a commissioner on the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Engineering Accreditation Commission. He is a fellow of the American Council on Education. He is a former member of the Board of Directors for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Monterey but resigned from the post when he relocated from Monterey to Lacey to join Saint Martin’s. Olwell says he hopes to find a similar volunteer opportunity in the Lacey area.
Additionally, Olwell has served in a variety of positions with the Knights of Columbus in California, including grand knight, district deputy, faithful navigator, state fraternal activities chairman and conferring officer. Olwell says he plans to remain active in the Knights of Columbus.
Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.
For additional information:
Molly Smith, Ph.D.
Provost and Professor of English
Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University