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University of Arkansas notebook

by Jaime Adame | June 11, 2020 at 3:13 a.m.

Computer-science head gets new job

FAYETTEVILLE -- Xiaoqing "Frank" Liu, head of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's computer science department, has been named the next engineering dean for Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Liu is set to start July 10, pending trustees approval.

Dale Thompson will lead UA's computer science department on an interim basis pending an internal search to replace Liu, UA spokesman Nick DeMoss said.

Liu joined UA in July 2015. The number of bachelor's degrees given out to students in UA's Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering increased to 132 in 2018-19 from 76 in 2014-15, according to UA data.

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Gov. Asa Hutchinson has emphasized computer science education in high schools and for younger students.

Liu said that has helped attract students to UA's computer science programs, which he said increased in enrollment by 30% from 2015.

"The department added multiple faculty positions to accommodate this rapid growth. In addition to the increased number of students joining our Department, many entering students are better prepared in computer science and the number of students who passed the entry-level classes by exams increased over the years," Liu said in an email.

He said the dean position at Southern Illinois is "an excellent professional career advancement opportunity," adding that he "had a great experience" at UA.

UA Engineering Dean John English in a statement said Liu "has been a joy to work with, and I'm grateful for his leadership during a time of rapid growth" for the computer science department.

Masks mandatory on transit buses

FAYETTEVILLE -- Passengers on Razorback Transit buses will be required to wear face coverings beginning Monday.

The date coincides with the first phase of UA's plan for reopening the campus during the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

As part of efforts to minimize the risk of covid-19 transmission, the plan requires face coverings "for all students, employees and visitors while on campus in public settings and where social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain."

Razorback Transit provides free rides to the general public as well as UA students, and staff and faculty members. Cleaning and disinfecting protocols for transit buses are also part of UA's return-to-campus plan.

The first phase of UA's return-to-campus plan involves having some employees back on campus after working remotely. UA's final phase in its plan has the student body returning to campus in August.

Strategy session's focus on inclusion

FAYETTEVILLE -- A two-hour online "strategy session" scheduled for Friday aims to have University of Arkansas, Fayetteville students, and staff and faculty members discuss ways to combat racism and have a more inclusive campus.

"We have a responsibility to lead in this moment, and our first of many steps is to engage our campus community to confront racial inequities, systemic racism and other forms of discrimination," Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said in a statement.

The session is to be the first in a series of campus talks after the death of George Floyd, a black man whose death in Minnesota while in police custody has led to protests against racism and brutality.

The discussion is only for students, and staff and faculty members, a UA spokesman said.

"Participants will be in discussions with one another and can introduce themselves as they feel comfortable doing so. But in order to encourage an open dialogue, any post-meeting summary information would not include attributions to specific individuals," UA spokesman John Post said in an email.

The event and others to be hosted by UA's Office for Diversity and Inclusion will "inform a campus action plan that will identify specific actions toward a more inclusive campus culture and climate," according to the university.

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