The case for gathering and nurturing a diverse academic community is clear. Preparing computer scientists to create solutions for the whole world requires a community of computer scientists that reflects the whole world. Virginia Tech’s “Principles of Community” states it well: “we affirm the value of human diversity because it enriches our lives and the University,” and we seek “… to create a community that nurtures learning and growth for all of its members.” Besides being the right thing to do, time and time again I have seen the benefits of improved access and inclusion for everyone. When we bring together people from different cultures, backgrounds, viewpoints, and ways of thinking, we get better results – better teaching and learning, better creating, better problem solving. And it’s just more fun to come to work when you are part of such a team.
The Department of Computer Science is committed to diversity and inclusion. Particularly in the last eight years under the leadership of Dr. Barbara Ryder, this commitment has increasingly become part of our department’s culture. In many ways, we are just getting started, and I intend to build on this commitment and momentum during my term as department head. Please let us know if you have suggestions for ways to improve diversity in our department and our field, or to see how you can help. And check out the newly revamped section of our website on diversity, and news of the newly established Barbara Ryder Fund for Diversity in Computer Science.