Rebecca Wright, the director of Barnard’s CS program, is a recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Service Award for her 11-year leadership of DIMACS, particularly in continuing and expanding the research and educational missions of DIMACS, for promoting diversity in computer science, and for using her expertise in privacy and security to help shape public policy on a national level.
Columbia’s computer science community is growing with Barnard College’s creation of a program in Computer Science (CS). Rebecca Wright has been hired as the director of Barnard’s CS program and as the director of the Vagelos Computational Science Center (Vagelos CSC), both of which are located in the Milstein Center.
Wright will lay down the groundwork to establish a computer science department to better serve the Barnard community. According to Wright, the goals of Barnard’s CS program are to bring computing education in a meaningful way to all Barnard students, to better integrate Barnard’s CS majors into the Barnard community, and to build a national presence for Barnard in computing research and education. Barnard students have already been able to take CS classes at Columbia and to major in CS by completing the Columbia CS major requirements. The Barnard program will continue to collaborate closely with the Columbia CS department, seeking to add opportunities rather than duplicating existing efforts or changing existing requirements.
“Initial course offerings are expected to focus on how CS interacts with
other disciplines, such as social science, lab science, arts, and the
humanities,” said Wright, who comes to
Columbia from Rutgers University. “We will address the different ways it can
interact with various disciplines and ways to advance those disciplines, but
with a focus on how to advance computer science to meet the needs of those
Wright sees room to create more opportunities for students to see the
full spectrum of computer science – from the one end of the spectrum using the
computer as a tool, to the other end of the spectrum where there is the ability
to design new algorithms, to implement new systems, to carry out things at the
forefront of computer science. Barnard will enable students to find more places
along that spectrum to become fluent in the underlying tools and mechanisms and
be able to reason about them, create them, and combine them in new ways.
The first course will be taught by Wright and offered next year in the
fall. It is currently being developed and will most likely fall under her
research interests – security, privacy, and cryptography. She also is
working on building the faculty through both tenure-stream professors and a new
teaching and research fellows program.
For now, students can
continue to visit Barnard’s CSC and CS facilities on the fifth floor of the
Milstein Center, including making use of the Computer Science and Math Help
Room for guidance from tutors, studying or relaxing in the CSC social space,
and enrolling in CSC workshops.
Wright encourages students
to visit the Milstein Center,”I love walking through the library up to our
offices.” The space is open and a modern presentation of a library – much like
how she envisions how the computer science program will develop.
“Computing has an impact on advances in virtually every
field today,” said Wright. “I am excited to see what we develop around these
multidisciplinary interactions and interpretations of computing.”
Dean Boyce's statement on amicus brief filed by President Bollinger
President Bollinger announced that Columbia University along with many other academic institutions (sixteen, including all Ivy League universities) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York challenging the Executive Order regarding immigrants from seven designated countries and refugees. Among other things, the brief asserts that “safety and security concerns can be addressed in a manner that is consistent with the values America has always stood for, including the free flow of ideas and people across borders and the welcoming of immigrants to our universities.”
This recent action provides a moment for us to collectively reflect on our community within Columbia Engineering and the importance of our commitment to maintaining an open and welcoming community for all students, faculty, researchers and administrative staff. As a School of Engineering and Applied Science, we are fortunate to attract students and faculty from diverse backgrounds, from across the country, and from around the world. It is a great benefit to be able to gather engineers and scientists of so many different perspectives and talents – all with a commitment to learning, a focus on pushing the frontiers of knowledge and discovery, and with a passion for translating our work to impact humanity.
I am proud of our community, and wish to take this opportunity to reinforce our collective commitment to maintaining an open and collegial environment. We are fortunate to have the privilege to learn from one another, and to study, work, and live together in such a dynamic and vibrant place as Columbia.
Mary C. Boyce
Dean of Engineering
Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor