Weekly Memo

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

Welcome back from what I hope was for all of you a refreshing long weekend. I know many of us have already scheduled our summers with plans for personal adventure and professional advancement, and I look forward to sharing your news about both over the coming weeks. Until then, though, I ask that you indulge me yet another mention of Commencement, and the Hajim School’s world-class Class of 2012.

First, some numbers on our undergraduates: More than 94 percent of Hajim School students eligible this year for graduation received their bachelor’s degrees on Sunday, May 20. Of those 181 hard-earned diplomas, women claimed more than a fourth, and 6 percent went to underrepresented-minority students, signaling encouraging trends toward greater diversity and gender parity in engineering – both of which are absolutely critical to the continued advancement of our discipline.

Seventeen percent had studied abroad, a once-unheard of proposition for the credit-loaded engineering major, and proof of the University’s commitment to creating opportunities for all of its exceptional students.

Twenty-three undergraduate-degree recipients had completed two – or more – majors, while 10 each had finished an additional year of study, through either the Take Five or KEY (Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year) program. And, nineteen of this year’s Hajim School undergrads claimed two degrees: for 12 of them, one of their degrees was a bachelor’s – either a BA or a BS – in Computer Science; for another four of these graduates, one degree was a BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering; and for the remaining three, one degree was a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

Also at Commencement, 101 of our students received their master’s degrees, and 40 others, their PhDs; about half of the former plan to continue on here in pursuit of their doctorates. (The majority of graduate degrees granted this year were in Electrical & Computer Engineering and in Optics.)

What amazing accomplishments – and while you all deserve some downtime now to relish this milestone, I admit I can’t wait to see what comes next.

In faculty news, Computer Science Chair Henry Kautz and his colleagues will be presenting June 5-6 at the third annual Health Data Initiative Forum, dubbed “Health Datapalooza,” in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Institute of Medicine, among others, it joins together top public- and private-sector researchers to discuss the latest innovations in medical-data collection and application, and how such developments can ultimately enhance patient care and improve community health. Dr. Kautz and his team will showcase their groundbreaking approach to epidemiology, which recognizes great potential in the “real-time” data relinquished by users of the social network Twitter. This is quickly becoming a can’t-miss event in the world of health-data research, and beyond – rock star Jon Bon Jovi is expected to attend this year on behalf of his Philadelphia-based human-services nonprofit – so it is both exciting and fitting that the Hajim School will have a seat at the table. For a detailed agenda and list of participants, visit http://www.hdiforum.org/.

Lastly, I must make right an embarrassing error found in last week’s memo, which happily noted the University’s recent rewarding of a beloved Hajim School faculty member – but also somehow misstated his title, as well as the name of the honor. Due in part to his students’ enthusiastic recommendation, Lane Hemaspaandra was chosen as this year’s sole recipient of the prestigious Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. And as his Computer Science colleague Michael Scott (thankfully) clarified later, “Lane is not a graduate student, but one of our most senior and distinguished professors.” Indeed he is. (I’d add that he’s also a gracious and understanding gentleman – he hesitated even to mention the mistake and never requested a correction.)

Wishing you all a fun-filled and fulfilling (4-day!) week.

Rob L. Clark
Professor and Dean