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The John E. Savage Endowed Professorship Kicks Off Brown's CS With Impact Fundraising Campaign

Click the link that follows for more news about CS With Impact.

"The world is changing rapidly," says Brown University's John Savage, An Wang Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, "and to address our society's grand challenges, we need to engage in outreach."

"Take the example," he says, "of national security in the early 1950s: the US was challenged by the Soviet Union. President Eisenhower, wanting to formulate a policy toward this aggressive nuclear power, convened foreign policy specialists in meetings now referred to as Project Solarium. Today, we are confronted with serious new international challenges in which computers, networks, and cyber weapons play a key role. To understand and address the problems created by these new technologies, computer scientists must engage with political scientists, sociologists, psychologists, historians, area specialists, and others. While the hardest problems cross disciplinary boundaries, Brown is poised to continue its long tradition of multidisciplinary research and outreach in addressing the new problems of the cyber age." 

We caught up with John just after his recent talk ("Cyber Security: A Societal Grand Challenge"), which was a retirement lecture in name only. (John is currently teaching in Brown's new Executive Master in Cyber Security degree program and will be teaching CSCI 1800 Cyber Security and International Relations to more than 185 students next semester.) At the reception afterward, Provost Richard Locke announced an important milestone: the establishment of the John E. Savage Endowed Professorship in Computer Science, funded with very generous gifts from John's family and friends.

Intended to honor John's legacy and support future scholars, the gift marks the beginning of a major fundraising effort in support of CS With Impact, the biggest expansion in Brown CS history and part of the BrownTogether campaign. As part of this effort, CS will seek to raise a minimum of $40 million to create ten new endowed chairs, which will be supplemented with the creation of five lecturer positions, for a total of fifteen new faculty slots.

Fifty years ago, Locke explained, even the idea of computer science as a department was highly controversial. Today, CS is Brown's largest concentration, acting as an intellectual hub for researchers who are helping decipher disease, understand the human brain, keep our data secure, and develop new technologies that improve lives.

To ensure that the University remains at the forefront of developing these tools, and that its students have access to the most advanced computer science education, Brown recently launched CS With Impact, which will dramatically expand Brown CS over the next five years. New faculty will help mitigate enrollment pressures and build bridges to other parts of Brown through joint appointments and with other disciplines.

First announced by President Christina Paxson less than two years ago, at John's fiftieth anniversary celebration, the John E. Savage Endowed Professorship in Computer Science was recently established and is now the first of what will be ten new endowed professorships in the CS With Impact expansion. At this time, the Savage chair will support an assistant professor. Brown is seeking a matching amount in additional donations, so that the chair can support a full professor.  

"When I came to Brown in 1967," John says, "I could see that the students were bright, curious, and wanted to take charge of their education. I was also impressed by the large amount of faculty interaction. For example, a chance interaction with a cognitive psychologist in the 1970s led to my co-teaching a human memory models course in the Psychology Department for four years. The freedom to pursue research worth doing has been very stimulating for me, and I'm delighted that we're adding these new faculty members via endowed professorships. It's the best way to build on our strength in CS and create opportunities for new directions as well."

For more information about the John E. Savage Endowed Professorship in Computer Science, or other opportunities to support CS With Impact, please click the link that follows to contact Peter Cohen, Director of Development for Computer and Data Science Initiatives. He can also be reached by phone at 401-863-3552.