The Computer Science Department held its biennial retreat on May 2nd, 2016, at the Rockwall Hilton in Rockwall, TX. The retreat began at 8:30am and went on till 4:30pm. According to Professor Gopal Gupta, Head of the UT Dallas CS Department, the goal of the retreat was to take stock as to where the CS Department stands and to come up with strategies for advancement.
The retreat started with a report by the department head Prof. Gupta on the state of the CS department. Dr. Gupta noted that the CS Department is doing great on all fronts. Enrollments are rising, the Department’s research funding is increasing, and CS faculty members are publishing their research in top venues. The intelligent system faculty members and their PhD students, for example, published 16 papers in the last 6 months in three of the premier AI conferences (AAAI, NIPS and ACL, read more here). The Department faculty received more than $10 million in new funds in 2015-2016. Three young faculty members received NSF CAREER awards in the last 1-year.
Faculty members went on to discuss important topics such as what should be the ideal size for the department in terms of both faculty size and student size, and how should the department manage its rapid growth, which has led to doubling of the department in the last 5 years. Important topics such as strategic areas of focus, graduate student recruitment strategies, especially for PhD students, were discussed. In addition to what new programs that should to be started, as well as how to quantitatively measure department’s performance, were also discussed.
The retreat was punctuated by a boat ride on the Lake Ray Hubbard during lunchtime.
Throughout this time faculty were treated to games, rallies, prizes, and department discussions.
The afternoon saw CS faculty divide into breakout groups covering the CS department’s six broad research areas (cyber security, networking, intelligent systems, software engineering, computer science theory, and systems). Each group discussed strategies to improve synergy among researchers and groups, identify opportunities, as well as devise strategies for the group to achieve its full potential.
The senior lecturer faculty divided into two break-out groups. One group discussed the development of effective strategies for their professional advancement while the other discussed new approaches to teaching classes with large enrollments as well as keeping the dozen or more sections of some of these courses synchronized.
Throughout the afternoon faculty were treated to lunch, games, and department discussions.
The day ended with a report from all the break-out sessions, concluding remarks by department head Dr. Gupta, and a post-retreat discussion over wine and cheese.
ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 1,600 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,100 master’s students, 160 PhD students, and 80 faculty members, as of Fall 2015. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.