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Bad Decisions About CS Education in Ohio

About a week ago the University of Cincinnati in Ohio announced it was no longer going to offer Computer Science as a Major. Dean Carlo Montemagno said it was a money decision. He also said "I can no longer do more with less," and "I have to do better with less."

What am I to do with this information? What am I to tell my students who want to study computer science? What ripple effect does this decision by a large university have on computer science education in Ohio and in other states? As we look at the Running on Empty: The Failure to Teach K-12 Computer Science in the Digital Age Report we are all reminded of the sad state of affairs of K-12 education. I am now getting concerned about the state of affairs computer science at the university level. If the University of Cincinnati can do this who is next?

K-12 teachers often have to justify their CS classes to administrators, boards of education, and communities. We have to fight to keep computer science courses in a world that is becoming dominated by technology, and now it seems the fight is also at the college level. What support do I have for my argument now if the largest university in our backyard (30 mins away) is not even supporting computer science? You could argue as the article does that there will still be some computer science courses in other areas. One of the comments suggests "you find that you get that training [computer science] in other programs as well. Every degree will offer their version of computer science classes." Maybe this is true and it would be nice if computer science permeated all other degrees; however, I find that hard to believe if budget cuts are the main reason to cut Computer Science Majors.

I am just saddened and concerned as I will not be writing any more letters of recomendation for my students to attend UC. I will continue to fight for my K-12 program and continue to fight the battle to promote CS Education. I just hope more colleges do not follow suit.

To read the full article and to comment on it, you can go to:

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110214/NEWS0102/102150310/1196/UC-drop-computer-science-major?odyssey=nav|head

Stephanie Hoeppner
CSTA member & Ohio Cohort Leader

Comments

While this news is disheartening, know that the University of Cincinnati continues to offer a bachelors degree program in Information Technology. It is one of only 15 or so ABET accredited IT programs in the country. We invite students interested in careers in computing to give us a look (http://it.cas.uc.edu). While not specifically computer science, UC also continues to offer degrees in Computer Engineering and Information Systems.

Mark Stockman
Associate Professor, Information Technology

I, too, am saddened by this decision. But I would caution against reading more into this announcement. Universities are under the same budget pressures as everyone else; occasionally, programs have to be cut, and the reasons may not be clear to outsiders such as us.

(Shameless plug: if one of the appeals of the UC program to your CS students was the co-operative education program, please encourage them to look up the road at Kettering University in Flint, MI, which has a vibrant co-operative education program for all students, including CS. Contact me for details.)

Agree, CS Education is very much important as the world growing with computers.

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