Category Archives: Culture

Departmental communications re: Fall 2020

Just over two weeks ago, President Kathleen Murray announced to students, staff, and faculty that “the fall 2020 semester will primarily be via remote learning.”

I spent the rest of that Friday processing the news and finishing other work already in progress. On Saturday, I woke up to an email message and a Slack post from a student proposing a discussion of the news that same day. As department chair, I scrambled to formulate a response. Fortunately, I’d already thought a fair bit already about this possibility. Below, find my email to all CS students that Saturday morning, and the results of a Q&A session during our regularly scheduled Tuesday evening CS Tea. Continue reading

Logistical response to Whitman’s move online

In my last post, I shared my colleague John Stratton’s response to Whitman’s move to online learning. In this post, I share our departmental response addressing logistical concerns. The major headings: lab access; lab aides, class mentors, and virtual office hours; departmental community; information for current and rising seniors; advising and major/minor declarations; the silver lining.

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Department chair’s response to Whitman’s move online

Yesterday, President Kathy Murray announced that Whitman will move to online learning for the remainder of the semester. Though it’s clearly the right decision, we are all disappointed as we revise our plans and expectations for the next several months.

My colleague John Stratton is serving as department chair this year while I am on sabbatical. John gave me permission to share his email to our students as a guest post here. I couldn’t have said it better myself. My next post will address the logistical plans we made at this morning’s department meeting (with appropriate social distancing!) Continue reading

Why computer scientists need to read literature

Yesterday, my beloved colleague Sharon Alker in English joined us for a CS Lunch discussion of how Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is relevant to computer scientists. In a nutshell, she argued that 1843 was a time of technological change in many ways like our own, and she had us closely read some short passages in that light.

But before we looked at A Christmas Carol, Sharon shared the following list with us. I have gained her permission to share that list with you, gentle readers. Continue reading

Responses to “5 ways to welcome women to computer science”

This Monday, my first essay appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education: 5 Ways to Welcome Women to Computer Science. Today, Friday, seems like a good day to reflect on responses. In particular, I want to talk about social media responses from institutions and individuals, and an in-person conversation with Whitman CS students and faculty.

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The Pledge of the Computing Professional

Last Wednesday we celebrated the third annual Pledge of the Computing Professional at Whitman College, with our first two computer science majors, three computer science minors, and an independent major.

The Pledge is a rite-of-passage ceremony for computer science students and others who intend a career in computing. Inspired by the Order of the Engineer, a pin and a certificate serve to remind alumni of their moral and ethical responsibility as a skilled professional.
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Visiting speakers

I was so busy this spring that I didn’t blog on our three wonderful visiting speakers! I did not post about them in the CS @ Whitman group on Facebook either—an oversight I will rectify in the future. In the meantime, here’s a brief summary of those three visits, with thanks to those who made them possible, and a glimpse at what may come in the fall.

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