Computer science agrees to join Informatics

Faculty will not decrease, classes to stay in Lindley Hall



The chair of the department of computer science will likely have a new boss for the fall. Professor Andrew Hanson will soon report to Michael Dunn, dean of the School of Informatics, rather than to Kumble Subbaswamy at the College of Arts and Sciences. Administrators decided that students and faculty would be better served if the computer science department was part of the School of Informatics, rather than the College of Arts and Sciences, where it currently resides. So, the two schools and the department agreed to move computer science to informatics.

Hanson said the shift makes sense.

"On campus there are two groups of faculty who have essentially computer science backgrounds, the emphasis of these faculty are different, but their training and their ways of looking at the world is essentially the same," Hanson said.

Ideally, the transition should be seamless, said Susan Quinn, assistant dean of the School of Informatics.

"Think of it as a modular kind of thing," she said. "They're unplugging from the College of Arts and Sciences and plugging into the School of Informatics."

She said students and faculty should see little difference in the shift, at least for the time being. There are no plans to change the degree requirements for either computer science undergraduates or graduate students.

"Our goal is for students not to feel any hiccup when the changeover happens," Quinn said

Computer science will maintain its offices and most of its classes in Lindley Hall. All faculty and staff in both institutions will maintain their salaries and position, Informatics is not planning on letting any employees go. In fact, the school will likely hire on more faculty, Quinn said.

"We anticipate continued growth in the in the School of Informatics," she said.

Quinn said the concentrations in School of Informatics are broken down into three parts. Human-centered informatics focuses on the way people interact with technology. Domain-centered informatics facilitates research and practice of fields such as medicine and biology. The final focus area is technology-centered informatics. The technical expertise that the computer science department brings will greatly benefit research, development and practice in this third field. It will also increase cooperation between students and faculty with a more technical computer science focus and human or domain-centered focus.

"The reason that's good is that within the School of Informatics, you have more opportunities to collaborate, now," said Quinn.

Hanson said the shift will also give the two programs more recognition.

"This creates a critical mass of faculty and skills that will allow us to be competitive with almost any place," he said.

Administrators had been looking at combining the computer science department with the School of Informatics since its creation in 1999, however most of the final work in reaching the agreement took place within the past month, Hanson said.

The change will add 31 computer science faculty to the 40 faculty in the School of Informatics. Currently, informatics has 465 undergraduates and 77 graduate students. The computer science department has 248 undergraduates and 155 graduate students.

The plan to move computer science, while settled between Informatics and COAS, must be presented before Bloomington Faculty Council committees before it can be finalized. If there are no objections to the plan by the BFC, it will be sent to IU-Bloomington Interim Chancellor Ken Gros Louis for approval before it becomes official.

-- Contact Staff Writer Michael Zennie at mzennie@indiana.edu.

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