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Colleges Race to Hire and Build for AI

Colleges Race to Hire and Build for AI


Inside Higher Ed’s Susan D’Agostino’s recent article, Colleges Race to Hire and Build Amid AI ‘Gold Rush’,  was as thoroughly researched and thought provoking as any of her previous publications. In fact, I decided to paraphrase the article and use the facts she presented as a baseline for tracking and updating college and university initiatives to keep up with or get ahead of the AI trend. What that means is that I will update this piece periodically when I hear of additional initiatives worth noting.

Ms. D’Agostino notes that computer scientists willing to teach are in “short supply” and “innovation’s trajectory is rarely predictable.” She quotes ed tech analyst Phil Hill as stating “’it’s a gold rush where you don’t know where the gold mine is or how to get the gold.’” While that may be true, Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL) has been a center of excellence for AI research since 1963, a contrast to the new institutes that are being funded.

Faculty Hiring

  • The University of Albany will hire 27 new faculty members, all specializing in AI, the largest cluster hire in the institution’s history. The 27 hires will span 20 departments in eight schools and colleges. Twelve will hail from computer science, data science and related areas. The remainder will draw from fields not typically associated with AI.
  • Purdue University will recruit 50 new AI faculty for its physical AI initiative.
  • Emory University will hire between 60 and 75 new faculty including an endowed chair for its AI Humanity Initiative. No more than 20 percent of the anticipated new faculty members will be computer scientists. The institution plans to embed artificial intelligence in areas such as health, social justice, business and law, and the arts and sciences.
  • The University of Southern California will hire 90 new faculty members for its $1 billion Frontiers of Computing initiative focusing on AI.

New Schools and/or New Buildings

New Institutes

New AI academic programs

At the time that I wrote about the UT Austin AI degree, I noted that Study Portals listed 126 online master’s degrees in artificial intelligence. I don’t plan to track degrees in artificial intelligence as much I hope to track initiatives to teach (and train, perhaps) students how to use AI in their professions. From my perspective, initiatives like those at the University of Albany, Georgia Tech, Emory, Purdue, and the University of Southern California are more notable for their goal of incorporating AI into wide curricular changes as well as the workforce. While skeptics have a right to share their concerns about whether the AI trend is hyped up too much, in my opinion, it’s too important to ignore.

As I wrote earlier, I’ll use the initiatives mentioned by Ms. D’Agostino as a baseline and update them from time to time.

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.


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