Notes from Department Head Cal Ribbens

Summer is a time of transition at a university.  While we try to catch our breath after the conclusion of a busy and productive academic year, we also turn to planning for the year(s) ahead, and prepare to welcome new faculty, staff, and students to our campuses in Blacksburg and Northern Virginia.  Exciting stuff!

But sometimes summer means bidding farewell to friends and colleagues, which is not as much fun.  This summer by far the most notable farewell goes to Dr. Barbara Ryder.  As most of you know, Barbara stepped down in 2015 after seven years as Department Head; she will soon be retiring and moving on to other adventures in Florida.  To say that Barbara made an impact on CS@VT is a huge understatement.  Numbers tell part of the story—under Barbara’s leadership 12 tenure track faculty members were hired, including five women; department research expenditures nearly tripled, to over $15M/year; undergraduate enrollment more than doubled, with the percentage of women in the undergraduate program rising from about 4% to over 16%; our graduate program’s USN&WR ranking rose from 47th to 40th; and the average number of PhDs awarded annually nearly doubled.  But beyond all the improving numbers, Barbara’s impact will long be seen in the confidence and aspirations of the entire department.  She challenged and encouraged us to be better—better at serving and preparing our students, better at pushing the boundaries of CS research, better at providing leadership in the university and the world-wide CS community.  Thank you and bon voyage, Professor Ryder!

p.s. Look for an announcement very soon of a newly created “Barbara Ryder Fund for Diversity in Computer Science”!


Dr. Ribbens