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Computer Science's 2020-21 Planning (July 16, 2020)

From: Ameet B Soni
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2020
Subject: Swarthmore Computer Science's 2020-21 Planning

Dear Computer Science students,

On behalf of the faculty and staff of the Computer Science Department,
we hope that you are safe and doing well.

We know that many of you have questions about President Smith's recent
announcement as it pertains to your Computer Science education.  Since
learning of the College's plan, we have been meeting to discuss the
implications for our course offerings for the upcoming academic year. As
many of you know, the department has been managing an enrollment crisis
for several years. Even prior to the events of the past four months,
high enrollments have stretched our resources beyond reasonable limits.
The changes required for the upcoming year, while correctly prioritizing
the safety of our community, nonetheless add to the constraints we must
plan around. Our discussions are ongoing, and we will be in frequent
communication with you in the following weeks.  Please regularly check
your email as we will be asking for timely responses that may impact
your enrollments for the Fall

There are many department goals we need to weigh, and it is important to
point out that every choice we are making has trade-offs. Some of our
priorities include (but are not limited to):

  •  guaranteeing that all senior majors/minors can complete their CS degree.
  •  maintaining progress for existing majors/minors so that they can continue their path towards completing their degree.
  •  fostering diversity and an inclusive curriculum that provides a) access and b) support to all of our students, regardless of background.
  •  taking into account the health, well-being, and personal/family constraints that faculty and staff face.
  •  maintaining a rigorous curriculum that accomplishes the department's learning goals.

I will be sending a series of emails over the next few days on behalf of
the department. Each email will focus on a specific topic. Hopefully, these
emails will answer many of the questions that you have. However, we also
expect you will have many questions, so we are constructing a Frequently
Asked Questions (FAQ) document

Currently, it only contains a link to a form for entering your questions.
While the form is live, you may want to wait until Monday to submit
questions since there will be a series of emails coming in the next few
days.  We will update the FAQ as we receive your questions and more
information becomes available.  Your course advisors will also send you
information for individual advising sessions that will take place August
11-August 14.  Please be sure to also read through the College's
as well.

We appreciate that many of you are facing difficult choices and
desperately need clarity in your academic options. I want to stress that
our paramount goal is to provide a high-quality and rigorous learning
environment for all of our students while honoring the safety and health
guidelines necessary to protect all members of our community. Thank you
for your patience and understanding.

Ameet Soni
Chair and Associate Professor
Computer Science
Swarthmore College