Heya Caitlin,

Here is the letter I wrote... I didn't send a copy to the CS department..
what address should I e-mail it to?  Or, just go ahead and forward it for
me.  Talk to you soon!

It's really long, and very general, and pretty impassioned, but I think
it's ok.  I would be reluctant to show it to other people, so I'd prefer
you not put it up on the website as of now.. but here a copy is for your
record =)


Hi there,

My name is Mike Flynn and I'm a senior Computer Science student here at
UVM.  I have enjoyed immensely my years here at UVM and have a passionate
love for UVM and especially the "little college that could", Math &
Engineering, and my quirky Computer Science department.

I put my skills to good use and given back to the UVM community: I have
TA'd three times; I gave the Outing Club, UVM's largest active student
organization, a robust and fun homepage that I regularly get positive
feedback about; and I am now in the process along with an MIS friend of
mine of doing a very cutting-edge page for another student organization,
CEL (the Consortium for Ecological Living).  I designed the software to
register visiting prospective students with the college of Math &
Engineering.  Along with all of this two of my friends and I are also
developing an exciting online guide to Burlington, extracurricularly.

It's saddens me, however, to see the Computer Science department get
consistently short-shifted on funding, faculty, and overall respect from
the College and from the University as a whole.  I know personally that
there are many creative and driven students in CS and that we struggle to
assert ourselves as a cohesive and proud community within that of greater
UVM.  I have had many of those classes in the windowless rooms with noisy
vents and broken equipment and a hodge-podge of old desks (i/e, what was
previously 220), and I have marveled at the disparity between our
facilities and those of other colleges, even our technical facilities!
Most frustrating of all is the disparity between our facilities and those
of our closest neighbor: Kalkin Building.  I realize Kalkin is newer, and
they probably get more grants and funding from businesses and alumni, but
it's just amazing to marvel at the amount of network infrastructure at
their disposal compared to the hodge-podge of EMBA.  By this I refer to
their Business School homepage, their BSAD Students homepage, their mail
and network and server setup, and their technical reference and support.
Of course, the difference in actual facilities goes without mentioning --
computer-equipped rooms, modern classrooms and equipment, comfort, etc.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I am very heartened by the few upgrades that
have been going on in Votey recently, like the new CS room on the third
floor.  But our facilities are still pretty humorous.  We are the home of
the COMPUTER SCIENCE department, and yet the Business School has a network
lightyears ahead of our own.

There are not only all of these tangible things, but the intangible effects
that giving Votey and the Computer Science and other related departments a
"rennaisance" would be immeasurable.  Heck, if I'm not mistaken, enrollment
in CS is increasing, and yet there is a glut for enrollment!  We should be
encouraging this growth in the CS department.
For two general and equally important reasons: Because (as news reports
have shown) our country is in desperate need of information technology
professionals, and overall IT-related enrollment is actually stagnant
nationwide despite the demand -- so much so that we're important
professionals from other countries.  So it should be encouraged if students
want to pursue technology-related careers that we make it as easy and
encouraging for them to do so as possible!  The other reason is that CS
students, like me, have a ton to give back to the UVM community.  UVM is
struggling like a clumsy giant to become up-to-date with the new
technologies and students here can help.  It benefits everybody: the
students get experience, workstudy or perhaps pay; the university gets
tech-savvy people to do the hard work for it, without having to outsource!
Many older staff are not so familiar with new technology, and this
coincides with such an increased demand for people knowledgeable of such
things -- web pages, databases, networking, new media, etc.

So, I apologize for being long-winded, but I hope you can understand where
I am coming from -- I am approaching the end of my time as a student here
at UVM, and I have loved being a student in the school of Math and
Engineering, and especially being in the Computer Science Department.  I am
planning to stick around here, perhaps even work with the Digital Media
Design Lab up in Lafayette Building after I graduate.  UVM has its issues,
but I genuinely love the place, and I want to see it become the school it
can and will be.  But it will take a concerted effort from the ground up to
overhaul the structure from the top down.  The school of Math and
Engineering is the perfect place to get that rejuvenation flowing: our
students are bright, our teachers are excellent (shout-outs to Byung Lee,
Jeanne Douglas, Bob Erickson and Myra Cohen at this point :>), and we have
just the right amount of spunk to become a truly energized community of
student and faculty.  And I really believe that if our home, our
environment, our workspace -- that is, Votey -- can be renovated, or even a
new home rebuilt for our school, the changes it would effect in the
consciousness of Math and Engineering would be tremendous.  Facilities that
are conducive to creativity and innovation, rather than a hindrance to it.

Thanks very much for hearing me out!  I realize (although not as purely as
you or other administrators) that the University is financially strapped,
and enacting large-scale changes is hard enough as it is, but it can't be
put off forever.  If we can present to the powers that be a cohesive and
comprehensive picture of where the school of Math & Engineering and
high-tech studies departments could be in the future, a fresh picture
rather than just the usual pained fits and starts, perhaps something will
click and it will actually go from the absurd to the inspiring.

-Mike Flynn
Computer Science Class of '01

-=- Mike Flynn - UVM CS/Philosophy Student (Senior)  -=-
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 While they were asleep, they did not realize they were
 dreaming... but when they awoke, they knew. (Chuang-Tse)