Dean of newly named Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science states inclusivity was the motivation
As of Sept. 1, UVic’s Faculty of Engineering has officially received a new name to recognize the Department of Computer Science. The change, which was put in motion last year, is meant to serve as a step forward in fostering diversity and inclusion.
Peter Wild, the former acting dean of the faculty, lobbied the motion in October 2020 with wide support from faculty council and by March 2021, UVic’s senate granted approval to move forward with the new name.*
The Faculty of Engineering was established in 1983 and joined with the Computer Science Department officially in 1988. However, only now is the name of the faculty changing to reflect the broad range of its students and faculty.
“Inclusivity has become a very important part of the mission of our faculty as well as the University of Victoria through EDI – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” said Dr. Mina Hoorfar, the dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, in an interview with the Martlet.*
“One of the inclusion mandates is that your own faculty members, whoever is in the unit, feel that they agree with the policies, the goals, the values of the faculty…so that’s why the name change came up, because of the huge mandate of the EDI, towards our faculty at the university.”
Other name change options, such as the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, were also considered but didn’t accurately reflect the faculty. For example, UBC Engineering is currently housed under the Faculty of Applied Science. While there exists a Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering within UBC Engineering, the Department of Computer Science exists within the Faculty of Science. The relatively new nature of the field of computer science and its neighboring disciplines makes it difficult to place.
Hoorfar, who previously worked at UBC in the School of Engineering, stated that applied sciences comprises many different disciplines, such as nursing and community and regional planning. As UVic didn’t foresee any such additions, Hoordar said, the name Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science was more accurate.
Hoorfar states, though, that if the faculty evolves to include other branches, another name change would be welcome.
The decision to join engineering and computer science into one faculty is unique. UVic’s decision to do so has paved the way for the creation of the Bachelor of Software Engineering program, which is the first accredited program of its kind in British Columbia and will allow for more interdisciplinary research.
Hoorfar, who has only been in the role of dean since July, commented that the unique nature of computer science existing within the engineering faculty was one of the factors for her choosing to continue her career in the dean position at UVic.
Previously, she had witnessed difficulties housing these two disciplines under the same faculty, and as a result the impossible nature of creating new collaborative programs in the area of computer and software engineering, because of logistical difficulties.
“We know that with the high tech growth, how much this field is really in demand. So one of the reasons I thought, ‘oh my god, I want to be part of this faculty is because of having the computer science,’” said Hoorfar.
* A previous version of this article listed Hoorfar as an acting dean and Wild as a former dean. Hoorfar is in fact the dean of the faculty, while Wild served as acting dean. We sincerely regret the errors.