LARAMIE — The University of Wyoming will begin the study and planning for a new School of Computing, following action by the UW Board of Trustees on July 14.
Meeting in Torrington, the board approved the UW administration’s notice of intent to develop the new academic unit, which would infuse computation, and digital and data science across the university for the benefit of students, faculty and staff — and be a statewide asset with statewide and national impacts, and global reach. The board must vote again to authorize the launch of the school. With final board approval, the launch could take place in early 2022.
“The School of Computing will provide the organizational infrastructure and emphasis to accelerate the growth and impact of computing, artificial intelligence and data science at UW across research, teaching, entrepreneurship and engagement,” President Ed Seidel said in a press release. “Computing differs from other departments in science or engineering, in that it is pervasive across a university; is multidisciplinary; will increase external funding; and requires collaboration at the college or school level. This novel organizational structure will ensure that computing and digital literacy become pervasive across all disciplines at UW.”
Other schools at UW include the School of Energy Resources, and the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources. Each has a dean and administrative structure similar to the university’s seven academic colleges, and each draws on faculty from across the university.
The School of Computing is part of a proposed transformation of UW’s academic programs to propel new and ongoing initiatives and to deal with budget cuts. The overall plan, presented to the Board of Trustees, also includes proposals to reconfigure UW’s colleges; discontinue or reorganize some academic programs; build on UW’s existing Tier-1 Engineering, Science and Trustees Education initiatives; and advance the new Wyoming Innovation Partnership. The proposal also calls for launching a Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and a Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Initiative.
The board’s approval of the notice of intent for the new School of Computing is the only piece of the overall plan that requires board action at this point. Reorganizations, consolidations, reductions and discontinuances of existing academic programs are governed by UW Regulation 2-13, which requires a period of review to seek feedback from stakeholders including the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate, the Associated Students of UW and other interested parties. This process is scheduled to be initiated this month by Provost and Executive Vice President Kevin Carman, with the planned deadline for feedback Oct. 1. Under that timeline, the finalized academic changes are slated to be presented to the trustees in November. More information can be found at www.uwyo.edu/acadaffairs/program-review/current/index.html.
Regarding the proposed School of Computing, the administration will now undertake a full feasibility study and campus review — including input from the Faculty Senate and ASUW — setting the stage for the president to submit a request for authorization to implement the program. That request will detail the purpose and need for the School of Computing; the proposed curriculum; anticipated enrollment; existing or new resources required to support the school; the benefits of the school to the university; and the likely value to, and impact on, students and the people of Wyoming.
As envisioned, the School of Computing would be the focal point of computing leadership and activity at UW, integrating and collaborating with a broad set of other units including all academic departments and the libraries, student success programs and discovery programs. It would provide Wyoming with agile and ethical computing professionals, while enhancing digital competency.
It also would provide a hub for:
— Academic excellence in teaching, intellectual distinction in research and innovation for computationally intensive entrepreneurship.
— Students, faculty, staff and community and state industrial and academic partners to develop partnerships.
— Stewardship, support and development of digital skills and literacy, and computational thinking for all.
The school would offer a bachelor’s degree with multiple tracks and minors, with plans to develop graduate degrees later.
“Our aim is to provide our students with the expertise and experiences they need to have successful careers; play a central role in creating the workforce, knowledge and infrastructure to support Wyoming companies; and empower data and computational research driven by applications of Wyoming interest,” Seidel said.
OTHER NEW INITIATIVES
Other new programs that are part of the administration’s plan — but don’t require formal board approval — are the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Initiative. These three linked initiatives — the School of Computing, for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Initiative — will train students in areas important for advancing key markets for the future economy of Wyoming, while propelling the new Wyoming Innovation Partnership — a new collaboration with the state’s seven community colleges directed by Gov. Mark Gordon to develop innovative solutions that will support and enhance Wyoming’s economy and workforce.
Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will serve as the hub for entrepreneurship education and practice, supporting the teaching of entrepreneurial skills across all disciplines; providing experiential programs for students; and engaging in statewide outreach. Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Initiative will serve the state’s second-largest economic sector by providing real-world experiences for students; courses, training and certificates via distance technologies to working professionals; outreach services such as market analyses and business incubation; and applied research in collaboration with industry.