Message from the Dean for Computing and Information Science


To many who reflect on the role of universities in modern society, it is clear that in the Information Age, society will come to rely even more on universities for leadership. These institutions must educate a citizenry that faces increasingly global issues—health, the food supply, the environment, globalization of business, jurisdiction of world government, the international sharing of intellectual property, and, increasingly, dependence of global institutions on a fragile software infrastructure.

Society will value those institutions that provide global leadership in coping with these issues. To lead in the Information Age, university administration, faculty, and staff will need to understand the capabilities and technologies of computing and information science, and bring that understanding to bear on the most pressing global problems—whether sequencing the SARS virus, building a protective digital skin for the planet, framing a coherent set of ideas and laws to manage digital intellectual property, or ensuring a reliable worldwide information resource.

Cornell has made it clear at the highest levels that it intends to remain a leader in computing and information science as the importance of this discipline increases. The university’s academic units are presented on the university Web site under the heading “Academics”. Among these units is the Faculty of Computing and Information Science (CIS); it is part of Cornell’s response to leadership in the Information Age. Its mission is to create more capability in computing and information science by recruiting faculty, building academic programs, expanding research, and informing policy.

Academically, CIS shares attributes with the Graduate School, in that its budget and administration support academic programs that reside in several colleges, and thus it operates in close coordination with the schools and colleges. Administratively, it shares properties of the schools and colleges: it is led by a dean, is independently budgeted, and is engaged in faculty recruitment. In research, it has institutes and coordinates with research centers.

CIS–supported academic majors and the schools and colleges at Cornell with which they are affiliated are listed below:

COMPUTER SCIENCE
(Arts and Sciences, Engineering)
established 1972

COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY
(Agriculture and Life Sciences; Arts and Sciences)
established 2001

INFORMATION SCIENCE* (*with a minor available in Engineering, Human Ecology, Industrial and Labor Relations)
(Agriculture and Life Sciences; Arts and Sciences)
established 2003

Two other CIS programs are in the works:
COMPUTATIONAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
(Graduate School)

DIGITAL ARTS AND GRAPHICS
(Architecture, Art, and Planning; Arts and Sciences)

CIS currently supports forty-eight faculty members, who are listed in this report. All are affiliated with at least one academic program, several with more than one. Most CIS–funded faculty members are in CS, all of whom are also appointed in Engineering; therefore CS is included in both CIS and the College of Engineering.

It is remarkable that these resources sustain broad programs outside the CS major and the CS graduate field. This is possible because of the strong coherence among the programs— a coherence that will be apparent in this report—and because of the participation of several other units— seventeen currently—that derive value from partnering actively with CIS, and thus contribute courses and activities.

One of the images associated with CIS is that of a woven tapestry. The vertical threads—the warp—are Cornell’s ten colleges and schools in Ithaca, plus the Weill Medical College in New York City.The horizontal threads—the weft—are CIS and the Graduate School.

Our mission is to add strength by connecting units together by making clear and distinct the strength and“color” of the CIS programs. This report will focus your attention on our segments of the warp. You will see that this tapestry is a dynamic, living entity.