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Nicholls makes steps to bring back computer science degree

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Nicholls State University hopes to see the return of the computer science degree under the College of Arts and Sciences within the next two years.

Computer science is currently listed as a concentration under the department of mathematics where students can choose from 26 computer science courses that are mostly electives. Only three of those courses are required. In past years, computer science was its own separate major, but was removed as a degree due to low student enrollment. However, a need has been expressed for its return. Lynn Gillette, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said that when he came to Nicholls in July, the University was interested in finding ways to increase enrollment and improve retention, specifically through new programs.

“We asked for feedback from our recruitment team as to where there was a great need and what were programs that students were interested in, and what degrees are highly sought after by local businesses,” Gillette said.

There were three programs that were mentioned more than others: engineering, criminal justice and computer science. Both criminal justice and computer science degrees are scheduled to join the curriculum. Since computer science already has foundations in the University, there is hope that students can enroll as computer science majors as soon as the fall of 2016 or the spring of 2017. The given timeline is Gillette’s ideal intent, but the approval process may take a few months at most.

“This all depends how soon we can get approval,” Gillette said. “Right now we are in the process of writing a letter of intent to send to the Louisiana Board of Regents. We have to get consent anytime we create a new major. If that were to get approved, we can move forward in taking the necessary steps.”

If the board approves the letter of intent, the admissions team would be responsible for getting the word out to the public via a press release and marketing. The major will be available to all incoming freshmen and any older students desiring to major in computer science are also welcome.

The new program will be different from the original, in that the University is seeking to “attract students that match the current need at present.”

The target is to focus on computer processing; however, the specific courses and requirements for the degree have not been decided, as it is too early in the process. Although the University does anticipate hiring new faculty members to teach the new courses, there are a few current professors who will be teaching the some of the computer science classes.

The Committee for Courses and Curricula will be “serving as a review board for proposed courses and curricula changes and make recommendations for accepted changes,” and once granted accreditation, the committee will oversee the changes to the academic handbook of listed courses. Les Theriot, student representative on the Committee for Courses and Curricula and treasurer of Nicholls State University Student Government Association, said that some courses are gradually becoming available again.

“For example, we’re working on CMPS 424 ‘Design and Analysis of Algorithms,’ which is geared towards computer programming,” Theriot said.
The computer information systems major is more “business-oriented,” and will still be separate from the computer science major, so students will have to choose between the two programs.

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The student newspaper of Nicholls State University
Nicholls makes steps to bring back computer science degree