OSU Computer Science
Celebrates its 50th Anniversary Celebration
By Dr. Blayne Mayfield
On the weekend of September 20 & 21, 2019, current and past associates of the Department of CS gathered to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Department. Attendees came from points far-and-wide, including Great Britain (Lennie Norris) and Alaska (Rob Sherry), and from times spanning the present back to before the Department of CS was formed. This writeup focuses on the events of that weekend; to learn more about the history of the Department, please take a look at the writeup from the 40th anniversary celebration, by Prof. Emeritus John P. Chandler. You might also want to take a look at the full collection of photos from the weekend.
Planning for the weekend began over a year before the event. The Department and the OSU Foundation tapped CS alumni Joe Carroll (class of ‘86) and Derric Driver (class of ‘89) to co-chair the committee charged to plan the celebration. A committee comprised of about a dozen alumni, faculty, staff, and OSU Foundation representatives was formed; the hard work of this committee contributed greatly to the success of the weekend. And our friends at Paycom (https://paycom.com) stepped up to sponsor the celebration; many thanks to Paycom!
The festivities began Friday evening, September 20 when alumni, faculty, staff, and other friends of the Department gathered at Backstage, a venue in downtown Stillwater for a time of reminiscing and forging new friendships. Associate Dean Tom Wikle of the College of Arts and Sciences spoke to the attendees regarding the impact that the Department has had on OSU and its history.
On Saturday, September 21, the main event was held. Approximately 120 students, alumni, faculty, staff, and other friends of the Department gathered in the Starlight Lounge of the OSU Student Union. The morning began with a time for current and past students to mingle and to hear some great stories of CS/IT history at OSU from the likes of Charlie Brown, an OSU Math graduate and pioneer of computing at OSU prior to the establishment of the Department of CS. (Charlie was 88 years old at the time of the celebration and traveled from Houston, TX to attend.) After a time, Derric Driver, who acted as emcee for the day, welcomed everyone to the celebration and recognized the members of the planning committee. He then invited attendees to partake in the luncheon that had been prepared (again, sponsored by our friends at Paycom).
As lunch was coming to a close, Derric asked Dr. Blayne Mayfield to play his ukulele for the crowd, and he responded with his rendition of “My Oklahoma Home,” written by Agnes “Sis” Cunningham and her brother Bill. Afterwards, Prof. Mayfield introduced a panel of former and current students (alumnus Joe Carroll, alumna Joanna Hwang, graduate student Ashwin Kannan, and undergraduate student Kayla Walkup), after which he moderated a discussion by the panel of topics relevant to those in and preparing to enter the professional world of CS/IT.
After the panel discussion was concluded, Dr. K.M. George, Head of the Department, presented Joe Carroll and Derric Driver with plaques recognizing the Department’s gratitude for their service as co-chairs of the planning committee.
Derric then introduced Burck Berry of the OSU Foundation, who spoke about the scholarship drive associated with the 50th anniversary, $256K for CS Students. He reported that nearly half of the goal amount had been raised already, and he emphasized the important and positive impact scholarship gifts and endowments have on deserving CS students.
(For those who wish to contribute to the CS scholarship fund, please visit the OSU CS homepage on the Web and click on the Give to Computer Science there.) Burck also took time to recognize Charlie Brown, who has pledged a significant estate gift to the Department of CS. (I had a chance to get to know Charlie on Friday night, and I was impressed by his long history with OSU and his zeal for helping deserving students.)
Derric closed the gathering by expressing the strong emotions he feels for the Department and the positive impact the Department continues to have. And as the event drew to a close, attendees were invited to visit the Department and see what is happening in some of its labs.
Whether or not you were able to attend the 50th anniversary celebration, the OSU Department of Computer Science would like to stay in touch with you. We would love to hear from you (feel free to email me at Blayne.Mayfield@cs.okstate.edu), and we invite you to let us know if you are going to be on campus, because we would very much like to see you and show you the great things that are going on in your CS Department.