New(ish) job

While this may not be news to everyone who reads the blog, today it was made official. I have a new administrative position in the School: I am the Graduate Director of Informatics. In practice, I’ll still be teaching and doing research, but I will also be in charge of the Masters in Informatics program. I have plans for this program, some of them small, and some of them a bit more grand. I’m planning on moving fairly slowly — at first. But in the not-so-long run, I hope that when people think of informatics in the US, they think of the University at Buffalo, and when they think of the University at Buffalo, they think of the School of Informatics.

I am hoping that my role in this new position will be as transparent as possible. There is always risk in such an approach: it lets the world see not only our strengths but the problems that we are working on. That said, I think such transparency can only help an organization, and while there are certainly times when discretion will limit my blogging on a topic, I hope to be as open as possible in describing what we are trying to do and how we are trying to do it.

In broad strokes, I am hoping that over the next year, we will:

* Become more entrepreneurial. Part of that means importing the spirit of “demo or die” from the MIT Media Lab. I want to create an environment that encourages risk, especially of the intellectual variety, and that unites thought with practice.

* Solve problems. That is, I want our curriculum and our students to be making a practical differences for the community and for businesses. I want businesses and other organizations that share our entrepreneurial spirit to partner with us and to provide a space in which shared resources yield shared benefits.

* Tell our story. Buffalo is off the beaten track; not everyone comes to visit us up in the “silicon tundra.” The diminution of distance that technology allows is not automatic. We need to pursue the networks and connections that new technologies provide. We need to do a far better job of telling people what we are doing, and paying attention to how this might lead to new connections, partnerships, and exchanges. At the very least, we need to make sure likeminded institutions in Western New York and our neighbors to the north see value in exchanging ideas, particularly when it comes to the social impact and use of communication technologies.

It’s busy at the beginning of the semester, and I have enough projects in full swing that my time is short. Over the fall semester, I hope that we can regroup as a faculty, and decide how to make our masters program a model for other universities to learn from.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted 8/25/2004 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Congrats Alex from this part of the world. At least if you’s ask me you already achieved you intentions pf paragraph 1.

    Thomas

  2. Posted 8/25/2004 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Thomas: Good to hear! Perhaps we can find ways for our own programs to work together at some point…

  3. Posted 8/29/2004 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Let’s see things will change here. Know more about it in 10 days.

    BTW: I established this program at the border of arts and media.

    http://www.transartinstitute.org/

    It’s completly in English and a lot of work ;-)

  4. Posted 8/29/2004 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Looks very interesting. I’ll have to chat with you about it when we see each other next. I’m hoping to move our program into distance, and we’ll be experimenting with that a bit — with a few of the seminars — over the next couple of years.

  5. Posted 12/2/2005 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I was glancing around your blog and found this entry. I enjoy the grand optimism and vision for the program, its too bad it will probably end up as a mediocre program unwilling and unable to fracture the bounds of informatics. It would be nice if UB took a stand on Informatics and forcefully stood behind it with research participation and maybe even redefine it if necessary. The seemingly timid approach to teaching informatics kind of creates an ambiguous environment. I would love to see some thrashing and blood spillage in the classroom.

One Trackback

  1. […] 1. Do not allow apathetic instructors to teach courses. Apathy is contagious, and even more so when you have an instructor who clearly is unconcerned with success. We have all had apathetic instructors, but for a new program that wishes to break boundaries of an ill-defined field, it is important that this energy and excitement is conveyed to its students. Energy is contagious as well. I will direct you to Dr. Halavais post on his vision for the program. […]

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