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William & Mary Considers New Academic Unit in Computing and Data Science – Daily Press

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Williamsburg — William & Mary is exploring the possibility of establishing a new academic unit in computing and data science.

The idea is still in its early stages, with a model and action plan expected to be completed in the spring, as President Peggy Agris told the university’s Visitors Committee on Thursday. to submit a plan to the Council of the Ministry of Education and the State Council on Higher Education.

According to a university release, “This initiative is a testament to growing student interest in applied science, computer science, and data science,” and that “the university’s commitment to strategic planning to support the anticipated needs of the Virginia workforce.” is born from

But the proposal appears to be further evidence to faculty groups that university leaders are not interested in their opinions. signed an open letter. This concerns what the signatories see as an erosion of the school’s tradition of shared governance.

A copy of a letter the Virginia Gazette received Monday after it was sent to Lowe said some faculty were “closer between William and Mary faculty and[Lowe’s]management.” Mr. Lowe could not be reached for comment.

The letter further alleges a “disturbing trend to centralize decision-making and eliminate meaningful faculty participation in setting institutional direction.”

Although not specifically mentioned in the letter, some were disappointed that William & Mary News had not heard about the possibility of creating a computing and data science department before the announcement, said one associate English professor. said Suzanne Hagedorn. letter signatory.

“As faculty members, we want you to understand that we are not an obstacle in finding solutions to the challenges facing the university,” the letter continued. We want to find effective ways to move forward.”

Formal discussions on a possible new academic unit will begin in spring 2022. A preliminary design team was then formed with representatives from all five of his schools at William & Mary to explore the possibilities.

After Friday’s joint meeting at the Alumni Association, faculty chairman David Armstrong said he was peripherally involved in the early discussion stages, but more concrete ideas will be put forward. He promised that the Faculty Council would be notified and asked to provide an opinion. table.

Physics professor Armstrong said, “We welcome more opportunities to hear faculty as early as possible.

After Friday’s meeting, Agouris said faculty and staff would have more opportunities to get involved as far as possible new units are concerned if they have something concrete to present.

“Faculty leaders are aware of that and are working with the administration,” she said, giving faculty more opportunities for engagement if they have specific ideas to present. “We fully expect to be involved in faculty meetings and have larger conversations.”

According to Agouris, it’s a long process and there’s plenty of time to get involved with the community. She added that if the administration had a better idea of ​​its options, it would have a better idea of ​​how to move forward.

Agouris notes that William & Mary News has seen an explosion of interest in computational science in recent years. That’s it.

In other businesses on Friday, William & Mary guaranteed scholarship assistance to cover at least the cost of tuition and fees for all undergraduate Pell-Grant-eligible students in the state, beginning in the 2023-24 school year. The Pell Grant is a financial aid that the federal government gives to low-income students. Unlike student loans, Pell grants do not have to be repaid.

“This program will allow William & Mary to continue to recruit the best and brightest, regardless of family means,” Rowe told the board. It’s an important milestone in our ongoing effort to improve our pricing and affordability.”

The school’s goal is to increase the proportion of in-state undergraduate students eligible for the Pell Grant to 20% in four years to expand William & Mary’s reach to non-traditional students.

About 17% of students in the state are now Pell Grant recipients, up from 15% just six years ago, according to William & Mary.

The Board also held preliminary discussions on the possibility of developing multi-year plans to increase tuition fees.

In May, the Tourism Commission’s executive committee voted to keep tuition fees for in-state students for the fifth year in a row and for out-of-state students for the fourth year in a row. The decision was made amid concerns that rising costs would affect the school’s affordability and access to prospective students.

During the discussion, several Board members agreed that a gradual change in tuition fees would be preferable to one major change. Student council president John Cho said a potential tuition increase was a concern among students, and the student body hoped their voices would be heard during these discussions.

Sian Wilkerson, 757-342-6616, sian.wilkerson@pilotonline.com

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