Every week, the Office of College Relations will profile one faculty member. Check back each Monday for the new profile.
This week, we feature Ellen Walker, professor of computer science and associate academic dean.
When I came to visit I was really, really impressed by the students, and that is probably the strongest reason for Hiram College. The reason for teaching at a small liberal arts college is because I really liked the opportunity to have so much leverage in a student’s life, to be able to see the change from their freshman year to their senior year and be able to have them in a lot of different classes.
You will not be a number here. You will not be able to hide here. You are going to know your professors and they are going to know you and this is really a good thing. You should take advantage of all the opportunities you have in this small intimate environment, to get to know your faculty and to get involved in extracurricular activities and to really be somebody because Hiram has the opportunity where everybody can shine in some way.
Computer science is a really exciting area. It is new. It is always changing. Every time you turn around computer scientists are able to solve more and harder problems and make a real difference in the world. Also, I really love the idea that you can take a problem, understand it and work out a solution to make it work and see it work all to the very end. You get to build stuff. You get to be creative, and you get to solve real problems that people really care about.
From a faculty perspective it is really nice. It is nice to be able to never have to juggle three courses all at once, but just two and then one. The 3-week term gives you the opportunity to do some really crazy things. For example, I take a group on a field trip to California to visit Silicon Valley. It is a 3-week course with a 6-day field trip attached. We have a great time and we learn a lot that we could not learn just sitting in Hiram.
Hiram College students tend to be very well-rounded. They tend to be verbal. They tend to speak up. These are all good things. Particularly I have experienced students in an engineering school, and there is a big difference between the students who I had in the engineering school and the Hiram students who are really more interested in the world and much better rounded.
I have a lot of respect for faculty at Hiram College. They are all strong in their field, they are all very active, we all work together well, we have interdisciplinary courses, and they are very interesting people. Good people to work with.
I really like working with the students. I like the other faculty. I like the curriculum. I like the opportunity to teach so many different courses.
About 20 percent of our majors go directly to graduate school and depending on whether they get a master’s degree or a PhD, they might go into industry or they might go into research or become professors. The ones that go directly out, go into a variety of careers. A few of them go to computer companies, but it is more common for them to work in IT for a company whose main business is not IT such as insurance companies, banks, real estate companies, that sort of thing. We also have a reasonable number of students who become entrepreneurs and develop software and sell it.