Dean Demillo resigns; Foley named interim

The dean of the College of Computing (CoC) Richard Demillo announced last week his resignation and intention to return to the faculty as a professor. Provost and Interim President Gary Schuster named as the interim dean James Foley, a professor in the School of Interactive Computing, effective July 1.

Demillo was named dean in 2002, taking over a program ranked thirteenth in the nation. Since becoming dean, the CoC has seen a 40% increase in the faculty and a 60% growth in research. Computer Science major applicants also increased by 13.5% last fall, along with the 4% increase in overall applicants. The CoC has been in the forefront of national recognition, winning accolades such as the NSF Career Awards and Sloan Fellows.

While Demillo’s tenure as dean was marked with academic and research successes, he also faced problems head on with financial issues for the college. Drops in enrollments, state budget funding and research sponsorship all contributed to a low point in the CoC’s financial history prior to Demillo’s leadership.

Upon assuming control, Demillo’s first directive was, as he states on his website, “steering the college to a position of financial health.” He appointed a business director who led budget and program cuts, including a two-year period of financial conservation. In 2007, the ensuing reorganization of the CoC’s financial structure led to an efficient organization able to get an accurate picture of its financial situation at any time.

Other programs under Demillo included the addition of seven new degrees to the CoC. To support the ambitiousness of this project, he added three new schools, and still has two more currently in their planning stages.

He described the effort as a cumulative process, encapsulating the work of multiple people. Supporters were necessary to the success of each of his projects to push for the accreditation, curriculum and faculty building, and review by the Board of Regents.

Since computing is an integral field to other areas, another major duty was to acknowledge and exploit any possible advantage gained through partnering with other universities.

Demillo pushed for Information Science students to work using interdisciplinary resources such as libraries and even Emory’s medical school.

The dean also participated in other projects such as sponsoring the development of the degree in Computational Media and implementing the threads curriculum. He stated on the CoC website that the former has already achieved success in the three most important areas: “attracting a new breed of computer scientist, attracting more women and attracting more ethnic minorities to the field”, while the latter has been described as “widely acclaimed.”

As interim dean, Foley will take over internal administration of the CoC, allowing Demillo to finish whatever projects needed by his official leave. These projects include collaborating and establishing a connection with international engineers to benefit students.

In addition, Foley and Demillo will work to ensure the continued relationship, as well as developing new ones, between the CoC and its external partners. The provost will also approve the next dean.

Demillo’s future plans are to return to the Tech faculty as a Distinguished Professor of Computing and Management after a brief hiatus, during which he will be completing his current projects and new research for the CoC.