Computing hiring system crashes

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“Sum ergo computo. I am therefore I compute.”

So reads the slogan for the Queen’s School of Computing, but budget cuts and a decade-long hiring drought threaten the school’s future as a cutting-edge program.

The Faculty of Arts and Science — to which the School of Computing belongs — has made cuts to its base budget over the past seven years. 

Most new hiring has been done through open competition among the departments for sponsored chairs, compensating for a fraction of faculty retirements and departures.  

The School of Computing has suffered from this adherence to the bottom line especially as the student-to-faculty ratio has sharply increased from 11:1 in 2011 to 19.5:1 in 2014.  

The school hasn’t been allowed to hire a new group of professors since 1995, but they expect to retire 14 of their 28 faculty members by 2017. 

Computing is a fast-evolving area of study. While certain theories have become standard tenants of the discipline, the applications of computer science are constantly changing.

Limiting the pool of knowledge available to computing students inhibits them from pursuing their careers to the fullest possible extent. In essence, the programs aren’t doing what they’re supposed to.

More importantly, without new professors, there won’t be anyone trained to take over when the current faculty inevitably retires — forcing the program to start over from scratch. 

Because of its relative newness as an area of study, computing relies on the support of more established departments and schools, sharing its only recent hire with the department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences.  

The various specializations that the School of Computing prides itself on — from Biomedical Computing to the Creative Arts — thrive on interdisciplinary collboration. 

But, its inclusion under the Arts and Science banner doesn’t mean that the School of Computing can reasonably be treated as having the same needs as any other discipline.  

The demands of a program that requires highly-specialized knowledge and hands-on teaching are far greater, and its students know it. 

However, when Benjamin Cecchetto, president of the Graduate Computing Society, brought his concerns to the Dean of Arts and Science, his concerns went unaddressed. 

Queen’s owes it to their students to respond when they express concern about the quality of the education they’re receiving, and right now, the questions around the future of computing students aren’t being answered. 

The impending hiring crisis in the School of Computing could’ve been seen from a mile away. 

But without farsightedness and open communication between students and the administration, both parties suffer. 

At the end of the day, there shouldn’t have to be a tab across the top of the School of Computing’s website that asks “Give to the School of Computing.” 

— Journal Editorial Board

 

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