AMHERST, Mass. – Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy announced today the establishment of a new College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst effective Sept. 1. W. Bruce Croft, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and an expert in information retrieval, has been named the interim dean. He will lead a college of some 800 undergraduate majors and 150 doctoral students, among the largest programs in computer science in Massachusetts.
“Our computer science faculty have long been recognized as national and international leaders in research and education,” Subbaswamy noted. “They already generate $18 million a year in federal and other research support. Establishing this new college will enable them to pursue new programs and collaborations within the campus and the university system, increase the scope of the college’s industry relations and enhance its already strong national reputation.”
“This is an exciting time for us,” commented Croft. “Creating the new College of Information and Computer Sciences accelerates the leadership position of the UMass Amherst campus in the discipline, in the Commonwealth and nationally. It places us right up there at the top with other forward-looking universities that have built their reputations in part on the strength of highly ranked computing programs.” The creation of CICS comes as a result of the program’s success as a department and subsequently a school within the university. Undergraduate enrollment and the number of computer science majors have tripled over the past eight years and are at an all-time-high, both at UMass Amherst and nationally, Croft said.
Katherine Newman, UMass Amherst provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, points out that with about 350 employees and a total budget of approximately $21 million, the new college is poised to embark on ambitious agendas in data science and cybersecurity. Faculty and staff will collaborate with social scientists to help power smart cities; with medical researchers to create more efficient ways of designing personalized medicine; with public policy researchers and law enforcement to tackle digital crime, and with ecologists to preserve biodiversity and mitigate the risks of natural disasters. They will work with communication engineers to build a better Internet, analyzing text to improve search engines and understand social trends, and improve data gathering to develop faster and more accurate weather prediction.
“Thousands of talented students in the Commonwealth are looking for advanced training in information and computer sciences,” Newman noted. “Our ambition is to ensure they will head for western Massachusetts where they will find a destination worthy of their talent, a place where they will have classmates and professors who are at the top of their game.”
Croft said CICS is adding a new undergraduate program in informatics, expanding the professional M.S. program, and adding new master’s programs in areas such as data science and cybersecurity to prepare students to apply information and computing sciences across many disciplines.