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story.lead_photo.caption University of Arkansas students are shown on the lawn in front of Old Main on the campus in Fayetteville in this file photo. ( NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo / David Gottschalk)

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.

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.

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