TITLE: Hobnobbing with Legislators AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 27, 2007 2:50 PM DESC: ----- BODY: As a department head, I am occasionally invited to attend an event as a "university leader". This morning I had the chance to attend a breakfast reception thrown by the university for our six local state legislators. They had all been part of a strong funding year for state universities, and this meeting was a chance for us to say "thank you" and to tell them all some of the things we are doing. This may not sound like all that much fun to some of you; it's certainly unlike a morning spent cutting code. But I find this sort of meeting to be a good way to put a face on our programs to the people who hold our purse strings, and I admit to enjoying the experience of being an "insider". I found our delegation to consist of good people who had done their homework and who have good intentions regarding higher education. Two or three of them seem to be well-connected in the legislature and so able to exercise some leadership. One in particular has the look, bearing, speaking ability, and mind that bode well should he decide to seek higher elected office. I can always tell when I am in the presence of folks who have to market the university or themselves, as nearly every person the room must. I hear sound bites about "windows of opportunity" and "dynamic personalities in the leadership". My favorite sound bite of the morning bears directly on a computer science department: "The jobs of the future haven't been invented yet." This post involves computing in an even more immediate way. Upon seeing my name tag, two legislators volunteered that the toughest course they took in college was their computer programming class, and the course in which they received their lowest grades (a B in Cobol and a C in Pascal, for what it's worth). These admissions came in separate conversations, completely independent from one another. The way they spoke of their experiences let me know that the feeling is still visceral for them. I'm not sure that this is the sort of impression we want to make on the folks who pay our bills! Fortunately, they both spoke in good nature and let us know that they understand how important strong CS programs are for the economic development of our region and state. So I left the meeting with a good feeling. -----