Presidential Initiative in Data Science

The University of Oregon is seeking world-class faculty to join a new interdisciplinary initiative in data science. The Presidential Initiative in Data Science will bring together existing faculty and recruit new faculty across the UO’s schools and colleges to create new research and educational programs.

President Michael H. Schill announced the effort on September 8 at a meeting of the UO Board of Trustees.

Ramping up the UO’s capabilities in data science responds to the increased demand across nearly all scholarly disciplines, and society as a whole, for the ability to analyze data to extract information about trends and populations that leads to new knowledge. This initiative will fundamentally strengthen the university’s ability to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Interdisciplinary Approach and Curriculum

The UO’s long history of groundbreaking research combined with a liberal arts approach to education will position the institution to take an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to understanding data science and turning it into actionable knowledge. Researchers from every school and college will have the opportunity to work together to gather, analyze and understand data so it can be translated into material that will impact society.

Provost Jayanth Banavar announced to the board of trustees that that the university will work with the faculty and senate about how to institutionalize this effort, determining aspects such as whether it is a new department and what sort of degrees programs will be established. Any new degrees will need to be voted on by the Board of Trustees and approved by the Higher Education Coordination Commission, in accordance with new degree procedures.


The UO’s Presidential Initiative in Data Science will see the hiring of eight new data science faculty in AY 2017-18 in the natural sciences, social sciences, the college of business, and the school of journalism and communication. Each of the hires is listed in the 2017-18 Institutional Hiring Plan. Additional hires are expected to be made in future years as the initiative grows.

Searches will be managed by the individual schools and colleges in close cooperation with the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs.

Bill Cresko, professor of biology, has been named the initial director of the program and will lead an advisory group to determine the institutional structure, launch the initiative, and connect the schools and colleges in the endeavor.