William & Mary is exploring the possibility of establishing a new academic unit in computing, data science and applied science in response to student, faculty and state interest.
This exploratory effort springs from a surge in student interest and research trends in computing and data science, combined with current and anticipated state and federal workforce needs and higher education trends. The effort is also a result of faculty, staff and administrative participation in Vision 2026’s Fall of 2021 Framework for Planning In (pdf), which identified the goal to “pursue a more dynamic and influential presence in engineering, computational and information sciences.”
Consistent with Vision 2026, the Computing, Data Science & Applied Science Initiative will consider William & Mary's shared goals of building on the university’s current strengths in computing and data science for educational and research pursuits and expanding W&M’s presence and influence in these areas.
Next steps for the fall semester:
- Provost meets with Faculty Assembly for dialog regarding possible steps forward.
- Provost meets with Faculty of Arts & Sciences for dialog regarding possible steps forward.
Provost Agouris will be studying the report over the summer, and working with her fiscal team on financial modeling for possible outcomes. She will discuss the report in detail with the Faculty Assembly and during the September Arts & Sciences faculty meeting before offering recommendations to President Rowe. The committee's report details community feedback received since January 2023, and opportunities to submit feedback through the online feedback form will remain open through July 25.
Formal discussions about a possible computing and data science unit at W&M began in spring 2022 and developed organically with faculty members initially raising the idea. In spring 2022 Provost Agouris named an exploratory ad hoc design team, including representatives from all five W&M schools and participating programs, to consider various models for a proposed academic school or unit.
After conducting external research, the design team members agreed to assign the chair of computer science, the chair of applied science and the director of the data science program to draft a model for a new school. In fall 2022, Provost Agouris presented the process (internal and external) and timeline to the Board of Visitors. In December, the three leaders of computer science, data science and applied science presented a draft proposal (pdf) for a new school for discussion and feedback.
In October of 2022 the design team concluded, and in January 2023, Provost Agouris named a formal steering committee, which oversaw the refinement of the proposed model as it received broader feedback. In June 2023, the steering committee submitted the final report (pdf) to Provost Agouris with relevant data and options for moving forward that will will expand W&M's presence and influence in the areas of computing and data science. Furthermore, Provost Agouris and A&S Dean Raitt, in collaboration with the Faculty Assembly, will initiate a comprehensive conversation about how to strengthen and support liberal arts and sciences education and research at W&M.
Discussion and internal research starts.
Proposal draft created, feedback and refinement process initiated.
Steering Committee named, feedback and refinement process continues.
Steering Committee submits final report.