Information and computer science attains school status at UCI ? a first in UC system

The University of California Board of Regents has approved elevating UC Irvine's nationally ranked Department of Information and Computer Science (ICS) to school status, creating the first computer science school within the UC System.

The change, effective immediately, will further ICS' current broad interdisciplinary education and research efforts – from embedded computer systems and networking to bioinformatics and the social impacts of computing – and accommodate growing student and global interest in computer science.

Debra Richardson
Debra J. Richardson

"The creation of the School of Information and Computer Science is a clear statement to current and future students, faculty and collaborators that the University of California recognizes the importance of the information revolution and intends to position UC at the forefront of technology's future," said Debra J. Richardson, ICS department chair, who will now serve as the school's interim dean. "This action by the regents both recognizes the growth of ICS and enables us to establish our already strong education and research programs among the best in the nation and the world."

Enrollment in ICS has grown by more than 125 percent since 1998 with more than 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students. ICS currently ranks 15th among all public university computer science graduate programs, according to U.S. News & World Report.

"The change from department to school for ICS is an idea whose time has clearly come," said Executive Vice Chancellor Michael Gottfredson. "ICS has always played a fundamental and positive role in the development of the UCI campus. Establishing the School of Information and Computer Science creates smaller, more closely related departments; will potentially provide a home for our new Department of Statistics; and allows ICS to take its rightful place alongside the other schools at UCI."

"Being the School of Information and Computer Science provides an administrative structure that is better able to serve our growing educational, research and economic goals," Richardson added. "This includes the ability to foster 'tech-transfers' between the university and outside community, attract even more high-quality students and faculty, and garner important research and philanthropic funding."

The new designation also enhances the special relationship between ICS and The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and its Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. A new joint degree in computer science and engineering is planned, and complementary research is underway.

Richardson, an expert in specification-based software testing, holds the Ted and Janice Smith Department Chair, a privately funded research endowment that will continue to be held by the school's future deans. A national search to select the first full-term dean of the School of Information and Computer Science will begin soon.

Debra J. Richardson

ICS' current strengths include artificial intelligence, networked and embedded systems, data mining, software and Internet-based information systems. ICS researchers pioneered such Web-based protocol developments as "http" and "DNS." Emerging strengths include graphics and visualization, security and cryptography and "ubiquitous computing," where computing becomes pervasive, yet recedes into the background of daily life.

ICS has existed as an independent academic department at UCI since 1968. Offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, the program has 43 faculty members, 50 staff members and more than 4,500 alumni. More than 250 undergraduate and 55 graduate students earn degrees through the program annually.

With the addition of ICS, UCI now has nine schools and the College of Medicine. The proposal to elevate ICS from a department to a school was approved previously by the UC Office of the President and both the systemwide and Irvine divisions of the Academic Senate.