Welcome Back

August 23, 2021

Welcome to the Fall 2021 semester! As I begin my second year as the Director of the School of Computing, it is good to reflect on the resilience of the School of Computing community over the past year and look forward to changes in the coming year. In recognition of the importance of the computing field to economic growth of the state and nation, I entered this role with the following priorities: (1) create a welcoming and inclusive program that attracts students who represent the diversity of the users of the technology our graduates will develop; (2) broaden the research and education programs to align with the expanding and interdisciplinary role of computing; and, (3) strengthen relationships with industry, state government, and educators to increase community impact.

As affirmation that inclusion is at the forefront of our priorities, we are launching the Utah Center for Inclusive Computing (UCIC). UCIC establishes a new staff role of Diversity and Outreach Coordinator, creates a team of student ambassadors, and provides a hub for outreach to the community. Significantly, it provides resources to revamp the introductory programming course sequence and design different pathways into our undergraduate programs,
recognizing that one-size-fits-all programs do not suit every talented student who considers a computing degree.

For the graduate students, in addition to several new elective courses, we have introduced a Teaching Training program to develop the next generation of faculty. We are pleased to welcome a record-sized Masters of Software Development cohort to train the next generation of computing professionals.

The School of Computing continues to grow and expand the programs it offers, in spite of a uniquely challenging year for higher education as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Fall 2020, even at a time when student population was shrinking at other institutions, enrollment in School of Computing courses grew by 6%. We were able to continue in-person classroom experiences for freshman and sophomores in our programming sequences through small recitation sections, and otherwise faculty and students adapted to streaming virtual classrooms. Our students Zoomed into classes from all over the world, sometimes accompanied by pets and small children. In spite of so many challenges, the largest number of students in history graduated with School of Computing degrees in 2021, and we
have seen substantial growth in incoming students so that we are now the largest major on campus.

In Fall 2021, the return to in-person classes will enable the School of Computing to renew the vibrant campus culture of our program. We look forward to working with the community to make the 2021-2022 academic year another year of growth and impact.

Mary Hall
Director, School of Computing