Internal Academic Review Committee

Report on the Review of the Department of Computing and Information Science

Approved by Senate November 23, 2000

The Department of Computing and Information Science plays a central role in the University. As noted by the University Review Team and the External Consultants in their academic review, the Department is involved in the teaching of students from many disciplines. It also participates in several inter-disciplinary research programs. In particular, it is currently exploring the development of a Biomedical Computing program, in collaboration with the Life Science departments, and a Software Design program, in collaboration with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The recommendations of the Review Team and External Consultants, arising from their review of the Department of Computing and Information Science, and the conclusions derived by the Internal Academic Review Committee (IARC) are summarized and discussed under two broad categories:

Strategic Direction

All of those involved in the review noted the absence of strategic direction in the Department. The IARC is encouraged by steps already taken by the Department to engage in the process of long term strategic planning. This will have to be pursued vigorously, though, for the Department to seize future opportunities as well as more immediate ones, such as its participation in the Access to Opportunity Program (ATOP), through which it can gain access to additional resources.

The IARC was pleased that both the External Consultants and the Review Team noted the dedication of faculty members to teaching and identified some excellent research programs. The Department has also had the opportunity to make a significant number of promising new appointments recently. These should contribute significantly to its research and teaching activities. There is, thus, a good foundation for the Department to engage in strategic planning. It needs, in particular, to reach consensus on its direction and establish a blueprint with sufficient detail so as to define its goals and to outline a concrete plan for meeting them. The IARC agrees with both the Review Team and the External Consultants that the Department needs to establish research themes that will create synergies among its faculty members and that will achieve a balance between meeting immediate teaching needs and building on existing research strengths. This will also help strengthen the PhD program, an issue identified in the Review Team's recommendations.

The IARC believes that it will be very important that there be champions within the Department to promote its key initiatives, e.g. development of the Software Design and Biomedical Computing programs, and foster links with other departments. Without such enthusiasm, commitment and dedication, the proposed new programs will have little chance of being realized. The IARC believes that the Department must also be more pro-active in dealing with enrolment issues in both its undergraduate and graduate programs.

Infrastructure Needs

The internal academic review identified some physical and human resource requirements that are not currently being met in the Department. The Department should do a thorough analysis of all its needs and resources in the context of its strategic directions.

The IARC encourages the Department to use the opportunity provided by the strategic planning process to address the recommendations made as a result of the Internal Academic Review.

Follow-up on recommendations and issues raised will occur as part of the annual staffing and budget strategy meetings between the Dean and the Vice-Principal (Academic).

September 20, 2000