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Science and Technology Commission
Discussion Notes
February 15, 2000

Introduction

Ms. Jones opened the meeting by reviewing a preliminary Commission Report to be delivered to The Board of Visitors on February 15. After some discussion of this report, Kevin Sullivan and Donald Brown presented a business plan detailing a University-wide Computing and Information Science initiative.

Computing and Information Science and Engineering Business Plan

In their report, Kevin Sullivan and Donald Brown stressed the great value that a world-class teaching and research program in Computing and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) has for the future of the University. Sullivan noted that CISE already cuts across all disciplines of the University (i.e., the sciences, the humanities and the professional schools) and that its integration into the various disciplines will only increase over time. As an example, Sullivan pointed to the University’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), which has helped to develop a critical new dimension in humanities studies.

According to Sullivan and Brown, the success of a multi-disciplinary program – such as IATH or medical informatics – depends in part upon a strong CISE core. This synergistic relationship with other disciplines in the University, Brown asserted, is also beneficial to CISE research and education. Helping to meet the teaching and research needs of other disciplines leads to an increase in the knowledge base of CISE fields.

Sullivan and Brown also strongly emphasized that the importance of CISE reaches far beyond the walls of the University. A strong CISE presence at the University would have a range of economic and social benefits both for the commonwealth of Virginia and for the national community. Sullivan pointed to the Milken Report (1999) which identifies the presence of an outstanding research institution as the single most important factor needed for a robust hi-technology economy. Similarly, Sullivan asserted, national security and prosperity increasingly depend on our nation’s leadership in CISE areas. Sullivan also listed a number of potential social benefits that could be brought about via the presence of a world-class CISE program at the University. These include the end of isolation for the elderly, global eco-monitoring and stewardship and the continued democratization of knowledge via digital libraries and distance learning.

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