Growth of a Department

A Personal History of Computer Science at UNC-Chapel Hill

Infancy: 1964-67

Ramping Up

Professors and administrators may be loath to admit it, but no one knows better than they who runs a university: the department secretaries. Since Fred planned to be away from Chapel Hill most of the time during the Department's first year, his choice of department secretary was particularly crucial. He was fortunate to secure the services of Sara Elizabeth ("Lib") Moore, a graduate of the University who had worked in the chancellor's office before moving to Duke University. Lib ran the Department for 16 years.

Teaching courses in 1964-65 were George Cramer and J. W. ("Bill") Hanson. The latter had been appointed in 1963 as director of the Computation Center and also lecturer in mathematics. Fred taught seminar courses in bursts during his visits to Chapel Hill. Fred, Lib, George, and Bill set up shop in West House (originally built as a private dormitory for four students), where they occupied all but the main front room. To start the curriculum, three Mathematics courses (21, 169, 170) were transferred to Information Science (as 10, 100, 150).

In 1965-66 Fred taught full-time. Full-time it was; while recruiting a faculty and managing a new academic unit, Fred taught six classroom courses in five subjects with average enrollment 27, conducted seminars and tutorials, and supervised master's theses. George Cramer had returned to IBM. Erwin Danziger, who came in 1965 from RCA to become director of Administrative Data Processing, offered his services. With an academic appointment, but no extra compensation, Erwin taught a business data processing laboratory course every year from 1966-67 through 1984-85. Bill Hanson's appointment was moved from Mathematics to Information Science, where he taught through 1967-68. The staff was augmented by the addition of Sylvia Hubbard, who taught programming. Graduate teaching and research assistants were paid $1200 per semester. The Department was in full operation.

Academic year 1966-67 saw the first M.S. degrees awarded, to Gail Woodward in December 1966 and to Hung-Ching Tao in May 1967. That year also saw the first of several bursts of significant expansion. Akira Nakamura came from Nihon University in Tokyo to begin two years as visiting assistant professor. Carl Page, with a new Ph.D. from Michigan State, held the first full-time tenure-track appointment (other than Fred's), as assistant professor. During the first decade, the Department used joint appointments to increase its breadth faster than its budget. The first two holders, Sally Sedelow with English and Walter Sedelow with Sociology, were the first senior faculty members to join Fred.

Early research was supported chiefly by grants from IBM and from the Atomic Energy Commission. Interactive computer systems, especially for instruction and for graphics, were the main attractions. The business affairs of the Department already occupied one graduate student 4-8 hours per week as financial officer. The first summer courses were offered in 1967.

Next Section: "Characterizing Principles"

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