Vanderbilt Developing AI, Computing, Data Science College

The college is in its earliest stages of development. Vanderbilt is still determining when it will be established and what programs it will offer.
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Published on March 27, 2024
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  • Vanderbilt University didn't specify when it would launch the College of Connected Computing.
  • The university will begin searching for a dean in August.
  • The faculty-led Connected Computing Task Force will advise the university on potential programs, departments, and research infrastructure.

Vanderbilt University is planning to establish an artificial intelligence (AI) college, the university's first new college since 1981.

The elite Tennessee university announced in a March 25 press release that it will build the College of Connected Computing for AI, computing, and data science. However, it didn't specify when.

"Of all the factors shaping society, few are more influential than the rapid emergence of advanced computing, AI, and data science," Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said in the press release.

"To continue to carry out our mission, prepare all our students for their careers, and advance research across the university, Vanderbilt must contribute even more to the study, understanding, and innovative application of these fast-changing disciplines."

Vanderbilt will begin recruiting faculty in the coming months and look for a dean beginning in August to lead the interdisciplinary AI, data science, and computing college.

The college is still in its earliest stages. The Connected Computing Task Force, a faculty-led advising group, will recommend departments, degree programs, and research infrastructure specifics to the university.

"The decision to establish this new college is rooted in conversations with faculty," C. Cybele Raver, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in the release. "We are continuing that faculty engagement with this working group, and we're fortunate to have the advice of some of the best minds in these fields as we embark on this exciting journey."

Less than a week earlier, the University of South Florida (USF) announced it's also developing its new College of Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and Computing. USF plans to open the college on all of its campuses in fall 2025 if everything goes as planned with governance and board of trustees approval.

OpenAI's ChatGPT rocked higher education when it launched in 2022, forcing schools to adopt AI anti-plagiarism policies and create curricula to match the demand for AI literacy.

Bachelor's, associate, and master's degrees; master of business administration (MBA) programs; certificates; credentials; and more are sprouting up at colleges and universities — from small schools to elite institutions — to meet students' needs.

The University of Pennsylvania became the first Ivy League school to announce an AI bachelor's in engineering featuring concentrations in robotics, machine learning, vision/language, data/society, and health/systems.

Purdue University is investing millions into Purdue Computes, an initiative pushing AI, quantum computing, semiconductor, and other tech at the university. In addition to Purdue Computes, the university began offering a master of science in AI and will soon create an institute for physical AI.

Smaller schools like John Brown University (JBU) and Ferris State University are focusing their strengths within their AI programs.

JBU's program, launching this fall, will integrate Christian ethics and perspective into the degree, which explores AI and business, engineering, and healthcare.

Ferris State University is utilizing its connections with national agencies, Michigan companies, and Amazon Web Services to offer students an AI bachelor's program covering biometrics, ethics, neural networks, machine learning, and human-computer interactions.

It even enrolled its first two first-year virtual students, Ann and Fry, who will learn alongside real students and choose their educational paths.