Computer science department reduces majors, minors

Faculty departures, surging interest prompt changes

The Computer Science department in the College has started to restrict enrollment to its major and minor after the number of students joining the department eclipsed the amount the small CS faculty could handle. There was previous discussion about suspending the program altogether.

Earlier this week a mass email was sent to students who had taken introductory programming classes at some point in the last few semesters, stating that the number of students allowed to participate in the CS major and minor would be cut drastically.

“It is wonderful that CS is so popular and we would like to continue to serve everyone, and it’s very frustrating for us to have to restrict enrollment,” department chair Kevin Skadron said in the email. “However, to be both fair to existing majors and not give others false hope of getting into courses in a timely fashion, we must suspend accepting most new B.A. majors, minors and declarations of CS as a second major … until we get more faculty and [teaching assistants.]”

Skadron said he was working with the University to find a way to accommodate more students, but as a temporary fix only a handful of students would be able declare majors and minors in the Classes of 2014 and 2015, and in the Class of 2016, only about 25 additional declarations could be processed.

“I am pleased to report that [Engineering School] Dean [James] Aylor has been able to arrange that CS will receive some additional resources that allow us to support about 50 total [B.A.s of computer science] majors per class year,” Skadron said in the update. He made sure to note this was an interim measure as they continue to work with the University to accommodate the full number of students which want to apply to the CS program.

Unexpected faculty departures from within the department contributed to the change, Skadron said.

“Unfortunately, faculty cannot be replaced quickly,” Skadron said. “We are now searching for [three to four] tenure-track faculty for next year, which will help a lot.”

The department will also likely implement an application process for the remaining major and minor slots, Skadron said.

“For B.A. students the declaration process will likely occur in the student’s second year, to align with College procedures,” he said. “The exact process for the B.A. major is pending approval from the College. We expect to take applications and notify students before the start of course registration for next semester.”

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