September 13, 2019
Over the course of the last year, as I’ve established my priorities as Provost, the area of data science has emerged as one that is central the University’s forward progress. From scientific and mathematical discoveries through computation and pattern recognition, to the visualization and analysis of demographic and linguistic data, and the analysis of texts and images, the continuing expansion of digital data and our ability to store, retrieve, and analyze it is bringing about an epistemological revolution.
We are producing knowledge in new ways and at an ever-increasing pace. Empirical investigation has replaced theoretical speculation in areas as diverse as systems biology and the micro-foundations of macroeconomic phenomena. It is also a pragmatic revolution. Data science now permeates education, government, medicine, engineering, entertainment, science, the arts, humanities, and business, touching nearly every facet of life.
At Pitt, we are enabling education and investigation to dig deeper and scan a broader phenomenal horizon. This infusion of data has led to a pressing need to teach students data-related skills, knowledge, ethics, and literacy, and to support faculty and staff in the collection, stewarding, retrieval, and analysis of data, whether in educational programs, research initiatives, or operations.
Many academic units at the University of Pittsburgh recognize this need and are responding individually with initiatives around data science. We have a burgeoning variety of “analytics,” “digital,” “computational,” “informatics,” and “-omics,” in fields as far flung as business, health sciences, social sciences, law, and humanities, as well as adaptive learning and student advising platforms. Coordinating and collaborating on these activities could leverage our collective ability, jointly build capacity to meet the demand, and foster opportunities for new interdisciplinary educational and research programs.
To further advance our efforts, I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Bruce Childers—who currently serves Pitt as Senior Associate Dean in the School of Computing and Information and Professor of Computer Science—has agreed to take on an additional role in the Office of the Provost as Special Assistant to the Provost for Data Science.
In this new capacity, over the next two years, Bruce will collaborate across the University to develop policies and examine opportunities regarding data science. As a first step, he will help me to populate and charge the Task Force on Data Science. The task force will work to further propel our educational and research mission through data in all its forms.
Please join me in welcoming Bruce to the Office of the Provost team—and to this important assignment.
Ann E. Cudd
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor
Professor of Philosophy