College of Computing and Lewis College of Science and Letters Launch at Illinois Tech

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By Linsey Maughan and Casey Moffitt

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June 1 marks the official launch of two new colleges at Illinois Institute of Technology: the College of Computing and Lewis College of Science and Letters.

The College of Computing houses Illinois Tech’s computer science, data science, artificial intelligence, applied mathematics, cybersecurity, information technology and management, and industrial technology and management programs. Combining these computer science, information technology, industrial technology, and applied mathematics-related programs under the umbrella of the College of Computing will realize the natural synergies and cross fertilization of these programs. The college will have the dynamic ability to adapt programs for a shifting tech landscape, educating students in computing concepts and technologies from the fundamental to the applied.

“The college will work from the ground up, rethinking the basic concepts of disciplines, courses, and degrees,” says College of Computing Dean Lance Fortnow. “In this fast-changing world, one cannot think of education ending at graduation, and the college must develop programs that not only serve our current students but grant our alumni a continuing life-long educational process, which will propel their careers.”

The College of Computing also plays a prominent role in implementing Illinois Tech’s strategy to infuse computation and data analysis into each degree program offered by the university. The concept of a college of computing isn’t new but using it as a vehicle to infuse computation and data into all academic disciplines across campus is a rare, if not unique, educational model.

“We aim for a time when every Illinois Tech student, regardless of major, has a strong understanding of the fundamentals of computing and data science,” Fortnow says. He joined Illinois Tech as the College of Science dean last summer from Georgia Institute of Technology, where he served as chair of the School of Computer Science.

Lewis College of Science and Letters houses Illinois Tech’s biology, chemistry, food science and nutrition, humanities, physics, psychology, and social sciences programs, along with the English Language Services office and several faculty-led research centers and labs. Its academic units form the core of the educational experience for all undergraduate students at Illinois Tech; all undergraduates, no matter their major, take courses in Lewis College.

“These departments offer the foundation upon which other schools and colleges build their majors,” says Christine Himes, interim dean of the new Lewis College and former dean of Lewis College of Human Sciences. “The creation of the college establishes a unit that can think strategically about undergraduate education, while maintaining strong disciplinary graduate programs. [Lewis College] will be responsible for more undergraduate teaching than any other college on campus. That is a big responsibility, and a great opportunity. I’d like to experiment with team-taught courses, short courses, and other new formats.”

Collaborations between departments within the new Lewis College already exist, such as dual undergraduate degrees between psychology and biology, and the new Science, Technology, and Society degree offered by the social sciences department, which requires a minor in a science field. Himes also envisions the creation of new courses pairing food science and nutrition studies with behavior and eating studies, as well as neuroscience.

“Another area where bringing the sciences together with humanities provides opportunities is to expand our thinking about science communication,” Himes says. “I hope to involve science faculty in writing courses, for instance. Policy issues are increasingly important in all of the science fields, and our social sciences and humanities departments have several faculty members interested in science policy, ethics, and social impact.”

With the launch of the new colleges, the former School of Applied Technology has dissolved; its departments are now part of each of the two new colleges. The College of Science and Lewis College of Human Sciences also no longer exist, now providing the majority of the program offerings available through Lewis College of Science and Letters, while some of the former College of Science’s programs have also moved to the College of Computing.