Report: Grinnell CS Reunion

Before there was any inkling that I would leave Grinnell, SamR and I hatched a plan for Grinnell’s first computer science affinity reunion.  We decided on Fall 2016, to celebrate  the 25th anniversary of the CS major, the 10th anniversary of the CS department (which happened to coincide with my arrival at Grinnell in 2006), and department founder Henry Walker‘s transition to senior faculty status.   Continue reading

Scholarship guidelines

In academia, at least, it’s a rare privilege to write the criteria by which your work will be evaluated. That was, in fact, one of my major tasks for the 2015-16 academic year, and part of my backlog of blog topics. Why is it on my mind right now? While I am being reviewed for tenure at Whitman, I also just submitted my first letter as an external reviewer for a tenure case at another institution. That other institution’s departmental evaluation guidelines look quite different from the ones I wrote for Whitman, and that got me thinking back on the process of developing guidelines.

I tell the story of Whitman’s CS Scholarship Guidelines below. Continue reading

Choose two out of three

Academic labor is typically framed as falling into three categories: teaching, scholarship, and service. There is also a common saying about tradeoffs in computer systems research: “X,Y,Z, choose two out of three.” Lately, I’m finding that in any given week I can be caught up on work for the CS program, or I can be caught up on grading, but not both. It’s a little harder to define being caught up on scholarship—meeting deadlines perhaps? In any case, if I meet a deadline for scholarship, I’m surely not caught up on everything else. Continue reading

Report: Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing

Last week I traveled to Austin, Texas with seven students for the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. My job was to moderate a panel on teaching-oriented faculty careers—my fifth such panel, but the first at Tapia. CS program funding allowed me to bring along several students. To maximize impact, I recruited from amongst this fall’s class mentors and the leadership of the CS@W student club. Students are expected to share or apply what they learn on campus.

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Whitman students and faculty at the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. You can tell we are in Texas by the steer made of license plates on the wall behind us.

I’ll start out with a diary of my experience, and conclude with my students’ reflections on their experiences. Continue reading

Designing a CS Commons

In August, Whitman’s computer science faculty moved into three adjacent offices recently vacated by Technology Services. It so happens that there is a common space outside the offices, separate from the hallway. We were permitted to use funds left over from creating the two lab classrooms for minor renovations and furnishings.

I didn’t ask for a CS Commons, and I’m not entirely sure that we deserve it when so few other departments and programs at Whitman have space for students outside of classrooms. I’m very grateful nonetheless. This post will address the design of that space. Continue reading