December marked a special milestone for graduates at The University of Texas at Dallas, as the campus honored its newest alumni in its 50th Anniversary celebration year. During seven fall commencement ceremonies Dec. 16-18, held in the Activity Center, over 2,700 students earned their UT Dallas degrees last fall. The December cohort of graduates included 1,545 bachelor’s students, 1,105 master’s students, and 79 doctoral candidates.
The formal recognition of the graduates began on Monday, December 16th, with the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony. During this ceremony, faculty members and students dressed in traditional academic regalia, with family members and friends in attendance. As each came to the stage, the student’s advisor placed the doctoral hood over the head of the graduate, signifying his or her successful completion of the doctoral program.
On Wednesday, December 18th, the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science held two commencement ceremonies to recognize the 658 expected graduates; this included computer science and software engineering students. Immediately after the commencement ceremony, the graduates and their supporters were invited to the CS Department Graduation Luncheon. The CS Graduation Luncheon is a biannual tradition that honors the University’s newest CS/SE alumni and provides new graduates with the opportunity to reflect on their time at UT Dallas while enjoying food and speeches given by UT Dallas alumni in the tech industry. The tradition welcomes new graduates into the alumni community and offers an opportunity to reflect on their experiences while studying at the UT Dallas Computer Science Department.
Festivities started with Prof. Shyam Karrah, Director of Graduate Studies, welcoming the graduates. Next, Dr. Gopal Gupta, UT Dallas CS Department head and Erik Jonsson Chair, addressed the graduating students and provided the recent graduates with words of encouragement saying, “To all you recent graduates, you are graduating at a time when our field—the field of computer science—is doing extremely well. Computing and software are profoundly changing the world, and you—CS majors–are needed to build this new world. This means that CS jobs are aplenty, and it’s relatively easy to find a job.” Dr. Gupta had a three-part message for graduates. First, that they should never stop learning, second, that they should not be afraid of taking risks in life, and third, that graduates should continue to stay in touch with their alma mater and its faculty.
Dr. Gopal Gupta next welcomed Dr. Hal Sudborough, UT Dallas Founders Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, who delivered an inspirational speech to the newly graduated cohort of CS/SE students and their family members. During his speech, Dr. Sudborough provided insight on lessons he learned throughout his life. Throughout his speech, Dr. Sudborough joked with the audience members while giving the audience a quick computer science lesson that included describing interesting problems that Dr. Sudborough has devoted his life to solving. Dr. Sudborough retired as Founders Professor of Computer Science in 2018 after 33 years of service to the CS Department and UT Dallas and is a world-renowned researcher in the area of theory, algorithm design, and computational complexity. He has given the best performing solutions to many famous and practical open problems. The pancake problem and the topswops problems are two such problems. Most recently, he was given the “Most Influential Paper Award” for a paper he published in 1980. Dr. Sudborough has been an instrumental part in the growth of the UT Dallas CS Department. He joined the department in 1985 from Northwestern University. Currently, he holds the title of Professor Emeritus of Computer Science.
Following the introductions and speeches, Dr. Gupta recognized a person who has no direct connection to the CS Department, yet made a significant donation to set up a scholarship named after him and his wife: The Manju and Dr. Pradeep Kumar Graduate Scholarship. Dr. Pradeep Kumar, who is a physician—a psychiatrist—by training, recognizes the importance of technology in today’s world, more so in his field, namely, the field of medicine. To support the development of technology, Dr. Kumar set up a scholarship to be given to an incoming graduate student. The first recipient of this scholarship is Mr. Anirudh Kaveti. This scholarship will be given every year, in perpetuity, as the CS Department set up the Manju and Dr. Pradeep Kumar Graduate Scholarship fund as an endowment.
Dr. Kumar himself received scholarships when he was a young student in India. These scholarships made a big difference in his life and his career. The life-changing benefit that Dr. Kumar received from these scholarships motivated him, in turn, to set up the endowment. This is not Dr. Kumar’s first foray into charitable giving for higher education. He has been giving scholarships on a regular basis to disadvantaged undergraduate students from the Dallas Fort Worth area for the past several years.
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 3,315 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,110 master’s students, 165 Ph.D. students, 52 tenure-track faculty members, and 44 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2019. 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.