Chair's message

Jeffrey Foster

Fall 2021

Welcome to the Fall 2021 semester at Tufts! I’m pleased to write to you as the new Chair of the Computer Science Department. I’m very grateful for all that Kathleen Fisher, the outgoing Chair, contributed to the department over the past several years. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with Kathleen, and I wish her the best in her new position at DARPA!

Last year held major challenges, with an unprecedented and previously unimaginable deep dive into remote learning. Almost all other department business was conducted remotely as well, via email, Zoom, Sococo, Piazza, Slack, Meet, and many others. We all discovered some of the surprising ways being online improves on being in-person, and the painful ways it is worse. I’m certain that we’ll carry lessons forward from last year, and things will never quite be the same.

This fall, after a year-and-a-half of almost entirely virtual classes, most of our classes will be held in-person. Masks will be required indoors, but it will be good to see students, faculty, and staff in three dimensions once again—even if we can only see half of each others’ faces. We will also offer many virtual classes, to provide options for students who are unable to return to campus, as well as for students in our online programs.

FYI: The Women in Tech (WiT) conference is happening on September 18, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference on September 27–October 1, and the CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference on September 14–18.

With close to 100 donors, a majority of which were CS alumni from a wide range of class years, the Ben Hescott Award for Excellence in Teaching is now a fully funded, permanent award in the department. The award recognizes excellence in undergraduate teaching assistants and teaching fellows. Many thanks to those who contributed!

As you have probably heard, construction on Joyce Cummings Center is nearing completion. The department will be moving into the building in two waves, with one group moving in November and the second group moving in January. By the spring term, all students, faculty, and staff will be enjoying the new space.

The department continues to grow and expand. This fall, we are delighted to welcome Milod Kazerounian, who joins us as an Assistant Teaching Professor. During his PhD, Milod already taught two summer courses for the department, so he is off to a running start!

Finally, while campus will seem more typical this year, we are clearly not back to normal yet. We will continue to need to be flexible, accommodating, and to care for each other. I am confident that if we continue to work together, we will surmount any coming challenges and have another successful year!

Best Regards,

Jeff Foster
Professor and Chair
Department of Computer Science