Provost Peggy Agouris sent the following message to the campus community on Nov. 17, 2023. – Ed.
Dear W&M Students, Faculty & Staff,
Today the Board of Visitors voted unanimously to form a new school bringing together Computer Science, Data Science, Applied Science, and Physics. This marks the first new school created at William & Mary in more than half a century. I invite you to read the William & Mary News feature on the decision and to visit the new school website for additional information.
Today’s exciting vote caps years of effort at William & Mary to ensure that faculty and students in these rapidly growing areas continue to flourish. Reorganizing into a new school promises to sustain their growth, strengthen teaching and research excellence, attract talented undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members, and secure novel internal and external partnerships.
So many areas of modern life benefit from these accelerating fields. Data science allows us to explore the impact of social media on democracy – then apply universal language networks to address manipulation on the platforms. Computer science advancements surround us: ensuring our “smart” devices are also safe and private. Applied science helps us understand – and maybe even embrace – the coming AI revolution. Physics undergirds all of these fields while reaching for the next breakthrough: using AI to accelerate experimental nuclear physics, for example, or deploying machine learning to pursue commercial fusion energy.
Into this dynamic world we welcome William & Mary undergraduate students to come study with faculty members and graduate students working at the forefront of their fields, sufficiently resourced in both terabytes and talent. I am particularly excited about the prospect of students and faculty working closely with Jefferson Lab as it develops its new high performance data facility, deepening our university’s long-held partnership.
The reorganization recognizes shared imperatives among the founding units. They operate in a shifting, ambitious landscape, with unprecedented opportunity for interdisciplinary research and teaching. They require agility to develop new academic offerings that meet student and workforce needs. Operational autonomy will allow them to pursue growth and critical research funding. This big tent may, in the future, include additional programs with similar aims and needs.
Under the plan approved by the Board today, William & Mary will submit the proposal for a new school to the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) this spring. The school will launch in Fall 2025, when we anticipate completion of ISC 4, the last phase of the Integrated Science Center, which will serve as its home.
I want to express my deep appreciation to Dean Suzanne Raitt and Vice Provost David Yalof for leading the steering committee charged with exploring the possibilities for an autonomous academic entity for Computer Science, Data Science, Applied Science, and Physics at William & Mary. My sincere thanks to the members of the steering committee, the Faculty Assembly, and the design team that started this work in the spring of 2022.
Finally, I want to express gratitude for every community member who shared thoughts about the future of these academic areas in surveys, town halls, meetings and other venues in the past year and a half. Together, we have developed an exciting plan for Computer Science, Data Science, Applied Science, and Physics at William & Mary that ushers in a new era of innovation at one of the first and most highly esteemed institutions in America.