Bryant becomes new Dean for SCS

Randal Bryant, head of the Computer Science department, has been named dean of SCS, effective April 1. Bryant?s selection follows dean James Morris? withdrawal to pursue other interests, including CMU?s West Coast campus. Provost Mark Kamlet formed a search committee to replace dean Morris earlier this year and named Bryant as head of the committee.
?I was head of the search committee because I didn?t want to do this,? said Bryant. But during the semester Bryant ?came to the realization that [he] wanted the job.?
Bryant informed Kamlet and recused himself from the search committee. Based on his history with the school and record as an instructor and researcher, the committee recommended him to Kamlet and President Jared Cohon, who named him dean of SCS. Dean Morris had expressed his desire to step into a different role earlier, but had committed to staying until he was replaced; since his successor is being named from within, the transition is taking place in the middle of the semester, instead of in August.
?I think it?s a great choice,? said Mark Stehlik, SCS?s assistant dean for undergraduate education. ?[Bryant is] a great researcher, [and] battle-tested in administration.?
Bryant, a member of the computer science faculty since he was hired from CalTech in the mid-1980s, has been nationally recognized for his work with logic circuit simulation and was appointed to the National Academy of Engineering last year for his research in that field. He also is a pioneer in undergraduate education, having created the course Introduction to Computer Systems (15-213) with professor David O?Hallaron. They co-authored the text for the course, which takes a hardware-level view of writing software; it is now used in over 60 computer science programs across the nation.
?It was a wonderful experience being able to work with him on the course,? said O?Hallaron on his collaboration with Bryant for 15-213. ?He really cares about students.?
Bryant believes in continuing SCS?s history of being on the vanguard of educational development, including Steven Rudich?s Great Theoretical Ideas in Computer Science (15-251/351), a course he touts as being unique and among the most innovative in the computer science department. As dean, Bryant plans to continue the strong emphasis on undergraduate education in the school.
?We?ve had a strong commitment to education at the PhD level and the last 10 years at the bachelor?s level,? said Bryant. To continue his personal commitment to undergraduate education, he is still signed up to teach an undergraduate course this fall. ?It?s important for the dean to be in close contact with the undergraduates,? he said. He also intends to continue the ?entrepreneurial? research model SCS uses: providing seed funding for projects for researchers without a strict permission process.
SCS has been ranked at or near the top of its field for several years, and Bryant hopes to continue the tradition.
?We want to make sure we stay up there,? he said. ?When you?re at the top, there are people who want to be where you are.? Among the concerns is recruitment; Computer Science is in a transition from high yield recruitment where it had the luxury of being very selective to a period of active recruitment, wherein it is now seeking out the best students for its programs.
Bryant?s old position as head of the Computer Science department will be filled by Jeanette Wing, associate dean for academic affairs for SCS.