History of the Department


Edwin Gerber, a senior mathematics and chemistry major, spent the last summer working at the National Security Agency. Ed is the third Sewanee student in recent years to intern with the NSA. Elena Eneva, a computer science student, received a Jack Stephenson Fund grant to work with Dr. John Lafferty at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute during the summer. As part of the Informedia group, her project was developing a system for automated intelligent document summarization using methods from linear algebra, natural language processing, and statistics. Another computer science student, Katharina Probst, used a Tonya Foundation grant this summer to study with Dr. Maxine Eskenazi at Carnegie Mellon on the FLUENCY project, which deals with teaching English as a foreign language using a computer program to improve pronunciation. She co-authored a paper, “In Search of the Golden Speaker,” submitted to Speech Communication.

Sherwood Ebey, who joined our faculty in 1968, will retire at the end of this academic year. Sherwood was Departmental Chair for several terms and has served the college in many other ways as well. Laurence Alvarez has returned to full-time faculty status after 27 years in administration, where he did budget work and was in charge of computing. Laurence is now Chair of the Department, replacing Clay Ross, who has just stepped down at the end of a five-year term. Catherine Cavagnaro has recently received tenure and is now enjoying sabbatical leave.

Linda Bright Lankewicz, who received tenure and promotion to associate professor, is the recipient of a CREW grant (Collaborative Research Environment for Women in Undergraduate Computer Science and Engineering) for research on methods of automating the process of extracting information from text by applying machine learning techniques.

Professor George Kurian of Bishop Moore College in Kerala, India, is now visiting us to work with members of our department on a course to be taken jointly next semester by students at his college and ours.

The 1999 Annual Mathematics Lecture was given by Tom Mitchell of Carnegie Mellon University, who spoke on machine learning and data mining. Professor Mitchell also gave the keynote address for the annual Sewanee-Rhodes-Hendrix Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium, which met this spring in Sewanee. The recently formed student ACM chapter will send members to participate in the ACM Regional Programming Contest this fall at Tennessee Tech.  Also this fall, a homecoming talk will be given here by David Binger, class of ’85, who received his doctorate in computer science at the University of Illinois. A homecoming gathering of Math/CS alumni to renew old acquaintances and listen to new ideas is becoming a popular annual event.

(Submitted by William Priestley, 1999)