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The (Possible) Death of a Computer-Science Department

Seattle Pacific University founded its computer-science department almost three decades ago, when the discipline was still going through growing pains.

But this year might be the department’s last. In its heyday during the 90s, the university — a private Christian institution — often had more than 125 computer-science majors. Now there are only 24, and none of this year’s incoming freshmen indicated any interested in majoring in the field.

Seattle Pacific’s vice president has twice recommended that the program be shut down, and the university’s president is expected to make a final decision soon. What went wrong? Campus officials say the dot-com burst was particularly hard on their enrollment: Seattle Pacific had traditionally accepted many tech-minded students who didn’t make it into nearby institutions like the University of Washington and Western Washington University. But with fewer students applying for the computer-science programs at those universities, there wasn’t much of a runoff left for Seattle Pacific to claim. (The Seattle Times)

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