Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Letter from the Chair (Summer 2014)

Computer Science undergraduate enrollment is skyrocketing. The figure below shows CS Amherst enrollments since we first introduced the undergraduate program. This graph is similar to the national trends over this same period of time. Some people predict that this recent rise in enrollments is just another cyclic increase that will once again be followed by a sharp decline. Others, myself included, believe that folks are finally starting to understand how integral computing is to our society. Although there will undoubtedly be economic downturns, computing and all the many manifestations of computational thinking will continue to be in high demand. We are fortunate to have a selective enrollment policy, helping us to attract some of the brightest and most promising undergraduates and allowing us to manage our resources and class sizes. Our undergraduates are highly sought after by industry, and this year, one of our seniors, Daniel Stubbs, was awarded the Computing Research Association Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award, which is awarded to two undergraduates each year, one male and one female, selected from all the CS degree granting programs in the U.S. and Canada.

After graduation, our alumni, both undergraduate and graduate, continue to do amazing things. This issue of Significant Bits notes recent accomplishments of some of our alumni, including Jody Daniels, who is a Brigadier General in charge of the African Command; Alex Wolf who was recently elected President of the ACM and won the SIGSOFT Outstanding Researcher Award; Carla Brodley who recently was appointed Dean of the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University; and Michael Franklin who became chair of the CS division at the University of California Berkeley. We love to hear about your successes and transitions, so please send an email and keep us informed.

As many of you know, every year we honor about half a dozen alumni, as well as graduating students and their families, at the Outstanding Achievement and Advocacy Banquet the first Friday in May. This is a terrific way to end the school year, recognizing the accomplishments of our students and alumni. All of our alumni are invited and most faculty attend. We select the alumni awardees from the nominations we receive, so please send us suggestions.

In July, there was a CS Amherst alumni gathering in Mountain View, California, held at the Google campus. We had a terrific turn out, with over seventy alumni attending. We provided the food, drink, and swag, and several faculty attended. A special thanks goes to Marc Cartright, Jay Corbett, and Naghi Prasad, who live in the area and organized the event. Last year we did a summer alumni event in Seattle that also was a success. And this fall, we plan to do another alumni event in Boston. If you are interested in helping to organize an alumni event (e.g., New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles), please let us know. If there is enough interest, we're in!

This fall marks the end of our Community Drive to celebrate our 50th anniversary. To commemorate the event, we were challenged by a matching grant from alum Steve Vinter, to increase our giving by 50% in four areas. We still have a few months to go and we have met two of these four goals. We increased the total number of donors by over 50% and increased the number of first time donors by 50%. We also added three new endowed scholarships, the Flynn Scholarship for undergraduates and the Kurose Scholarship and Clarke Scholarship for graduate students. Both Jim and I are absolutely flattered and humbled that alumni would start scholarships in our names. And best of all, these scholarships will provide support to our students so that they can accomplish their goals in life (and perhaps someday pay it back by supporting a scholarship for other students). We still have a ways to go to increase the number of alumni email addresses (that is one reason we still send Significant Bits by snail mail!). We have even made it easy for our alumni to have a lifetime CS email address that they can count on, whether they change jobs or get annoyed with their current email provider. Although we would like to use this email address to send you (infrequent) messages about CS activities, you can request an account and opt out of receiving our messages. To send us your email address go to www.cs.umass.edu/forms/email-address-form and to sign up for an alumni email address go to www.cs.umass.edu/lifetime-email-forwarding - help us reach our email address goal.

Finally, I am delighted to welcome five new faculty members this September: Assistant Professors Amir Houmansadr, who is working in cyber security, Subhransu Maji, who is working in computer vision, Barna Saha, who is working in theory, Brendan O'Connor, who is working in natural language processing, and Lecturer Gordon Anderson, who has done work in computer education and software engineering. These new faculty will expand our research profile as well as expand our teaching offerings. We wish them the very best as they embark on what we are sure will be very exciting and fulfilling careers.

Undergrad Enrollment Stats