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Trustee vote rounds out
computer science offerings
September 21, 1998

A new degree in computer science, to be offered by the School of Engineering in addition to the existing bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering, has been approved by the Board of Trustees.

Erling Murtha-Smith, associate dean of engineering, told the trustees the computer science degree will focus on software, while the computer science and engineering degree has a larger hardware component.

UConn's program in computer science and engineering is a market niche for the University, he said. Of 234 programs offered nationally, 140 are bachelor's of computer science, 85 are computer engineering, and only nine offer both.

The new degree will be offered in part to expand the school's enrollment, and also to satisfy the demands of the marketplace. Murtha-Smith said 68,000 graduates in computer science are needed each year, and more will be needed in the future. "The growth in jobs in computer science and computer engineering in the next 10 years will be 100 percent," he said.

Murtha-Smith said the degree will not compete with programs at other institutions of higher education in Connecticut, but will attract students who might otherwise go out of state.

UConn currently offers a range of computer science programs:

  • bachelor's in computer science and engineering.

  • bachelor's in electrical engineering (for hardware design).

  • bachelor's in management information systems, in the business school.

  • master's and Ph.D. in computer science as part of the CITI program at the Stamford campus.

  • a technical writing concentration in the bachelor of general studies.

  • a program in information technology to attract graduates of community-technical colleges who do not wish to take a degree in business or engineering.

  • a new non-credit, intensive eight-month experience to train people for entry-level software positions (the course will begin September 26).

  • an information technology program that is part of the MBA program at the Stamford campus.

  • an information technology concentration in the bachelor's program at the Stamford campus.

"We're trying to cover the landscape," said Fred Maryanski, vice chancellor for academic administration and a professor of computer sciences.

Murtha-Smith said the new program would rely on existing faculty and filling vacancies for retirees. There is a nationwide shortage of qualified people to teach computer science, however, and the market is extremely competitive.

Pending approval by the state Board of Governors for Higher Education, the University hopes to offer the new degree beginning in fall 1999. The program is ultimately expected to serve up to 50 additional students.

"Once high school students are informed and interested in computer science, they'll apply as fast as we can take them," said Murtha-Smith. "And once they're out the door they'll get hired."

In other business, the board voted to hire a consulting firm to conduct an independent review of UConn 2000.

Trustees are confident that the review of the construction status of buildings and of how money has been spent will show the University has successfully handled the program, said Claire Leonardi, chair of the trustees financial affairs committee.

UConn 2000 faces another evaluation in January by the state legislature. Along with $1 billion for the program, the legislature granted UConn unprecedented autonomy to construct and renovate buildings, control that was formerly vested in the Department of Public Works. Whether that autonomy is continued will depend on the outcome of the legislative review.

The trustees also approved an amendment to the by-laws stipulating new guidelines for awarding the title "distinguished professor." The guidelines emphasize scholarship, creativity and research, and teaching. The title, awarded through a peer review process, is limited to 5 percent of the University's full-time faculty and may be awarded to no more than five faculty members a year.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunn.