UO to launch new School of Computer and Data Sciences

The University of Oregon will open a new School of Computer and Data Sciences in fall 2023, combining the university’s growing strength in computer science with its five-year investment in data science.

The new school, housed within the College of Arts and Sciences, will offer classes to students across the UO and also will be a home to research and experiential education activities.

“The launch of the new School of Computer and Data Sciences demonstrates what is possible when we work together to address the needs of our society, students and industry,” said Patrick Phillips, UO interim president. “It is exciting to see this school come to fruition out of the vision and work of our faculty and staff in the Data Science Initiative, the College of Arts and Sciences, and partners across the university.”

The university first explicitly prioritized data science in 2017. Since then, it has hired more than two dozen faculty members with expertise in data science, launched a data science undergraduate degree program, and created significant new research grants and partnerships.

On a parallel track, the College of Arts and Science in 2014 brought in a new head to the Department of Computer and Information Science who helped recruit strong faculty members with diverse interests to help the department build and strengthen its degree programs.

The new school will build on those investments and the longstanding, in-demand computer science degree programs. Data scientists are essential players in nearly every industry, ranging from auto production to aerospace, health care and biotech, as well as investment banking, insurance, government and even nonprofit management.

“The formation of the school marks a major milestone in our efforts to meet the growing demand by students, industries and society for data and computer sciences expertise, understanding and career preparation,” said Janet Woodruff-Borden, UO’s acting provost and executive vice president. “I am incredibly grateful to the faculty and staff who have created a school that will have a transformative impact on our campus and beyond.”

Bill Cresko, executive director of UO’s Presidential Initiative in Data Science, emphasized the role of ethics and a grounding in the liberal arts.

“An ethos of diversity, equity and inclusion will guide everything done in the new school, from programs created to research undertaken to industry partnerships,” Cresko said. “This school will develop degrees and focus where we can do well by doing good. Other schools of computer and data science also train people to have superpowers, but our school will train people to use those superpowers for good.”

The school will incorporate existing UO degree programs in computer science and data science. The new data science major is a model for how the school will reach across the university. In that program, students choose a domain specialization that provides them with the interdisciplinary opportunity to apply core knowledge from the school to an area of interest.

“By putting computer science and data science together in one school, we combine these two side of the computational coin into one unit, which will be well-placed to collaborate with physicists and political scientists, with geographers and geologists, with anthropologists and biologists, as well as others across campus in business, communication and elsewhere,” said Hal Sadofsky, dean of the natural sciences division in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Beyond campus, UO data and computer scientists are increasingly connecting with partners in industry and society. Those partners will provide avenues for student opportunities, new collaborative research projects, and positive impacts of the UO on society. The new school will help accelerate those partnerships.

“A common goal of the school across all disciplines is to center experiential learning for our students through internships, externships and similar opportunities,” said Dean Chris Poulsen of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This way, we focus the school’s research mission on areas that impact society and the world.” 

Computer and data science will be open to students throughout the UO, with the goal of serving 2,000 undergraduate majors and students in existing and new undergraduate and graduate programs.

Learn more on the School of Computer and Data Sciences website.