College of Computing News

Fortnow Leaving Georgia Tech for Dean's Position

Lance Fortnow, chair of the School of Computer Science (SCS), is leaving Georgia Tech to accept a position as Dean of Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

“In my years as chair I have most enjoyed working with the incredible faculty, staff, and students of the School of Computer Science,” Fortnow said. “As I embark on my next chapter, I look back on the great community that we built and the critical role the school has and will continue to play in the success of the College and the Institute.”

When Fortnow joined SCS in 2012, computing was undergoing a transformation as processor improvements slowed and the cloud became the new paradigm. Once separate fields would now need to work together in this changing landscape, and Fortnow viewed his role similarly. As chair, he oversaw some of the top researchers in systems, databases, cybersecurity, architecture, theory, networks, and programming languages. His goal was to create a unified research vision where faculty were encouraged to collaborate in pursuit of bold new research initiatives.

Fortnow grew this research community through hiring faculty who excelled at working in multiple fields. Since he started, the number of pre-tenure faculty has grown from five to 11 — with 10 new faculty members added in the past two years — a striking achievement when there are five open jobs for every candidate. The school now boasts 37 faculty members, including nine endowed chairs, eight ACM fellows, and multiple NSF CAREER Award winners. The faculty manage multimillion-dollar contracts from DARPAONR, and other prominent research institutions.

During Fortnow’s tenure, SCS faculty lead research endeavors on the future of computing outside the school as well. The Center for Research into Novel Computing Hierarchies (CRNCH), created in 2016, finds new ways to build computing devices as the technological environment shifts. The Institute for Data Engineering and Science (IDEaS) was also launched in 2016 around data-driven research. The Institute refocused its cybersecurity efforts when the Institute for Information Security and Privacy (IISP) was founded in 2015 with many SCS faculty serving as vital members.

“Lance has been an effective chair and leader for the School of Computer Science,” said College of Computing Dean Zvi Galil. “The school is extremely productive, not only in the foundational areas of computing, but also through efforts in areas like data science and cybersecurity.”

Fortnow, a computational complexity scholar, came to Georgia Tech from Northwestern University in 2012. He is an ACM Fellow and was the founding editor of ACM Transactions on Computation Theory. As a leader in his field, he has chaired ACM SIGACT and the IEEE Conference on Computational Complexity.