Meet Linda Ott, Chair of the Computer Science Department

Linda Ott

One of the things Department of Computer Science Chair Linda Ott has always enjoyed about being Chair is getting to know CS students. She is available to chat with students about anything, from concerns about a course to future career opportunities. Email Dr. Ott to set up a time to chat.

What are some examples of the issues that students can bring to you?

Students can come to me to talk about a wide range of things. Of course, I’m also quite willing to help with any problems that they may encounter, particularly with CS classes and faculty. Not all problems are easily solved, but many are. And it is important that we know what kinds of challenges students are facing as we strive to continuously improve our educational environment and outcomes. I also love hearing about things that are going well and their ideas for how we can improve our programs.

As Chair, how do you support student learning and success?

Student learning and success, of course, start with student engagement and an excellent academic program. At the highest level, we support this through maintaining the quality of our curriculum and demonstrating it through our ABET accreditation. At a more personal level, I am available to help students individually with whatever challenges and problems they are facing. Assigning faculty to teach courses that they enjoy teaching can also increase student engagement and learning. I work with the Learning Center to ensure it is available to support students who are facing difficulties in their CS classes, and provide faculty with graduate student and undergraduate student support for their teaching. And I work with our advisor, Denise Landsberg, to ensure she has the information and resources needed to advise our students. 

Overall, what is the role of a department chair?

The Department Chair is responsible for most everything within the department. A primary concern is the quality of our undergraduate and graduate educational programs and the success of our students enrolled in these programs.  Along with this, the chair supports the Department’s faculty. Our faculty are key to our success. Thus, as Chair I strive to provide the faculty with the necessary resources so they can effectively maintain and deliver our educational programs, as well as develop successful research programs. 

I am also an advocate for our Department both on-campus and off. This includes interacting with prospective students, industry, and alumni. It also means advocating within the University for Department resources, such as additional faculty positions. Finally, I’m responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Department, including the department’s finances, advising, class scheduling, etc.  Indeed, much of what a Department Chair focuses on is balancing the many diverse needs of our faculty, students, and external stakeholders.

What are some of your top priorities as chair?

Over the past two years, as we have coped with Covid, my top priority has been the health of faculty and students.  The growth of the Department is also a priority. Computing plays an ever-increasing role in our lives and in our society. We need to have quality undergraduate and graduate programs to support this demand. Thus, a priority is ensuring that our academic programs evolve as the field evolves. We also need to develop and evolve our research programs. Both of these mean that hiring top-notch faculty needs to be a clear priority.  

What else should students know about you and your role as Chair?

I have been at Michigan Tech for more than four decades now and I have contacts with many of our alumni.  Sometimes I’ve been able to make connections for students who may be interested in learning more about a particular company or geographic region with an alum who can answer their questions or provide them with additional contacts.