Right Ship, Best Crew

Friday, June 29, 2018
Dean Mili Blog 1

Right Ship, Best Crew and the Wind at Our Backs

Dear College of Computing and Informatics members, affiliates, alumni, and friends,

By the end of July, I will be wrapping up my first year at the helm of this great college, the College of Computing and Informatics at UNC Charlotte. I cannot feel more grateful or more enthusiastic about being here. I am in the right ship, with the best possible crew, and the wind is blowing at our backs.

Within UNC Charlotte, an Urban Research University, the College of Computing and Informatics grounds its sense of purpose in creating, using, and disseminating computing knowledge for the betterment of society. Our faculty and staff are passionate about fueling our students’ learning journey as they develop into competent professionals and compassionate citizens. Whether enrolled in a bachelor’s, a master’s, a certificate, or a Ph.D. program, our students are driven by the limitless creative power of their discipline and its transformative potential. 

With power comes responsibility. Our curricula and pedagogy must develop our students’ sense of community and their professional duty to heavily weigh and design (rather than stumble upon) the ethical and societal implications of everything we create. Our goal in the college is to build relationships with every one of our students so that we activate their learning through the first degree they get with us and become lifelong learning partners, helping them remain ahead of the curve for professional and personal fulfillment. The level of commitment of the College’s faculty and staff to serving all of our students, embracing their diversity of skills, assets, and needs, and broadening their perspectives and aspirations is a daily source of inspiration for me.

In addition to its deep commitment to its students, the College of Computing and Informatics cultivates a culture of innovation in everything it does. It ranks in the top 100 in Computer Science, thanks in large part to its extensive research. More than 80% of our faculty have funded research programs, and the average funding per faculty is at $270K per year. These numbers alone compare very favorably to most R1 institutions where faculty have more resources and fewer teaching responsibilities. This speaks volumes about our faculty and Ph.D. students. Our Ph.D. graduates are highly sought out by top universities and cutting-edge research firms. Qualitatively, the research we conduct is distinct in its “Urban Research” and social awareness. Our faculty and students are addressing some of the grandest and most pressing challenges our communities and the world face. Using expertise in data analytics, machine learning, cybersecurity, bioinformatics, sensing and actuation, complex systems, human-centered design and more, they are addressing problems of cyber and biological security, designing assistive technologies, and using modeling tools and data analytics to understand and predict risks and model alternative approaches to a variety of physical, economic, and social systems. 

Maintaining a sense of place and community is another pillar of the College and University. We are proud of the many strong partnerships we have with the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, the region and its businesses, as well as the professional and nonprofit associations who are our partners in education, research and development. Together, we power the economic engine and shape the social fabric of our region. Our partners’ investment in mentoring, internships, scholarships, student projects, curricular input, and guest lectures, as well as research and development projects, is an essential part of the quality and sustainability of what we can deliver.

We have great plans for the coming year. As we prepare and shape those plans, I wanted to start by expressing my pride and gratitude for the people of the College of Computing and Informatics. We have exceptional faculty who excel in both research and education, innovative and open-minded leadership in each of our departments, and a most dedicated and flexible staff. As we continue our journey, we know the challenges are many but we also know that we are in the right ship, at the right time, with the right crew, moving in the right direction. The future is ours to shape.

-Dean Fatma Mili

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