BGSU Computer Science 50 Years Logo

The BGSU Department of Computer Science is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019. There will be several special events including a  keynote address for the public and a full-day program for our alumni, current and past faculty and students. 


Among the scheduled  events are a public keynote address  on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, featuring Dr. Alex Aiken, the Alcatel-Lucent Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, and an all-day program on Friday, Nov. 8 for alumni of the computer science program.


The Computer Science department at BGSU was the first CS department in Ohio when it was established in 1969. Over the past 50 years, the department has grown and developed its curriculum to adapt to an ever-changing industry, and we have prepared many accomplished alumni to work in a variety of capacities throughout the industry.

For 50 years, Bowling Green State University has been preparing students to be leaders in the computing industry. As the first Ohio university to offer an undergraduate degree in computer science, BGSU has been committed to providing a current, comprehensive and client-centered environment for the teaching and learning of computer science and related professional values.

The process to develop a curriculum was started in the early- to mid-1960s and based on ACM’s curriculum ‘68. ACM’s guidelines were meant for departments starting new undergraduate programs. Faculty from several departments on campus came together to propose a curriculum for the program, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Leone, former dean of the Graduate College and a biology professor, and Dr. David Krabill, professor of mathematics. The computer science undergraduate program was approved by the Board of Trustees in February 1969 and classes started that fall.

After a national search Dr. David L. Fulton was hired as founding chair of the department; he hired a team of faculty members - Rick Thomas Jack Wooley and Joan Stepenski who helped provide the solid framework for the department, which was housed in the Math Science Building.

Just three years later, in 1972, the heavy demand from local and national industry for graduates with expertise in computer science convinced the Board of Trustees to approve the Master of Science in Computer Science degree and the master’s program was started. It was again, the first program of its kind in northwest Ohio and the 2nd in the state. The program required 45 -50 credit hours of graduate courses (45 credit hours for Plan 1 and 50 for Plan II). 

 Among the courses offered in the early years were: Introduction to Computing (I & II), Computers and Programming, Systems Programming, Logical Foundations of Computing, Numerical Methods, Data Structures, Programming Languages, Computer Organization, Operating Systems, Language Translation Systems, Computer Graphics, Minicomputer Systems, Techniques of COBOL Programming and Techniques of Data Base Management

1975 – BGSU hosted the SIGGRAPH National Conference, which was unique compared to the other major metropolitan areas that hosted the conference. 

1977 – The BGSU ACM hosted the East Central Regional Programming Contest. Prizes and trophies were awarded to the top three teams in the competition. The first-place team earned the right to compete in the National ACM Programming Contest in Atlanta.

1978 – In a BG News article, the computer facilities were described as follows: “The major computer facilities available at BGSU are comprised of an IBM 360-75 and a UNIVAC 1110 system. Both systems have a wide range of peripherals and have facilities for both remote and time-sharing access.  Used primarily for faculty research and instructional projects. In addition, the department owns two minicomputer systems (NOV 800, NOVA 2) and two microcomputer systems (Altair 8800) These are used for faculty research and advanced student systems projects. The department has several research grants for the development of software for the NOVA, interfaced with the 360/75. There are also six other NOVA systems available on campus which have a variety of peripherals, including a 30-inch CALCOMP drum plotter.”

1980 – Dr. David Krabill was granted emeritus status in mathematics and statistics and computer science

1981 – ACM officers included Kevin Wohlever, president; Joan Swabley, vice president; Beth Bofenkamp, secretary; and Deb Whaley, treasurer; Larry Dunning and Carol Beriswill were the faculty advisors. Events for the organization included a Myles pizza party, programming contests, meet the faculty night, a Halloween costume party, a speaker to talk about careers in computer science and math, a bake sale fundraiser, a field trip to a graphics lab at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, and attending the ACM CS Conference in Indianapolis. Yearly dues were $2.50 per person.

1982 – BGSU switched from quarters to semesters, resulting in significant revisions to courses and degree requirements. 

1983 – President Paul J. Olscamp (1982-1995) established a technology initiative on campus to replace the keypunch machines that were used on campus, allegedly the only state university that still used them at the time. By fall 1983, all keypunch machines were replaced in a university-wide initiative to upgrade computing equipment, and doubling the computing capacity at BGSU. There was a financial consequence that impacted the ACM chapter on campus: when keypunch cards were used, ACM wrapped and sold them as a fundraiser for the organization.

1985 –A BG News article (Jan. 18), reported on students’ interest in receiving lab credit for their computer science labs similar to what science labs do.  This proposal was never implemented.

1987 – ACM Officers for the school year included Lloyd Palmer, president; Lori Schaffers, vice president; Michelle Laslo, secretary; Jeff Wiles, treasurer; and Mohammad Dadfar and Chip Copper, faculty advisors. Among the events throughout the year were Computer Date Party, Programming Contest, volleyball with faculty, speakers’ T-shirt sales. Dues were $5 per semester and $10 for the year.

1988 – (April 12) The Computer Science Department’s Program Excellence site review was held.

1988 –President Paul Olscamp wanted a new technology initiative and created Project-90 to upgrade and modernize the university’s administrative computing capabilities. This wide-ranging project updated virtually all of the university’s administrative support software, including Registration and Records, Bursar, finance payroll, human resources, student housing and more. Dr. Ron Lancaster, CS faculty member, was chosen as the director of this project which lasted from 1989-1994.

1990 – The department won the Ohio Board of Regents Program Excellence Award and a grant of $235,289. The program was part of the state’s Selective Excellence strategy to provide incentives to advance strong academic programs and the undergraduate and graduate levels which address strategic needs of the state, including quality of life. The grant was to enhance the basic research facilities and capabilities of the computer science department to conduct more software development research by establishing a state-of-the-art research laboratory to add essential research personnel and to enhance the general level of support for the exchange of research information. 

1991 – The department moved to Hayes Hall from the Math Science Building. Faculty went from sharing office spaces to having private offices, and the department had its own independent labs and a graphics lab. Industry helped the project by providing some of the equipment that allowed the department to do things that couldn’t be done before. “Life was a lot easier with adequate space,” said Ron Lancaster. 

1991 – (Article in Arts and Sciences’ newsletter) The Computer Science Department was recognized for its efforts to recruit women for its graduate studies program. Dr. Mary Edmonds, then  vice president of Student Affairs and a graduate of Spelman College, and Dr. Ann-Marie Lancaster, then chair of the department, and Dr. Lee Miller, former faculty member, worked to recruit Spelman graduates to attend BGSU’s master’s program in computer science. One of those students, Iretta Kearse, was the first black student to receive a master’s degree in computer science at BGSU. 

1993 – The Toledo chapter of Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) presented its Corporate Support of the Year Award to the BGSU Computer Science Department. Honored for their concern for the growth and direction of students by providing access to the Computer Training Center in Maumee to the BDPA Jr. Computer Club and books, and also hosted the statewide competition for African American computer students

1994 – The department was allocated a budget for maintaining/upgrading technology; more resources meant the department could do more things for students and faculty.

Over the years, the department established strong relationships with area businesses and corporations who were interested in hiring graduates from the program. Long-time relationships include Marathon, Cooper Tire Company, Owens Illinois, Owens Corning, Nationwide, and Progressive, which provided co-ops, internships and jobs for the students.

 2013 – The Board of Trustees approved a Master of Science in Analytics degree, which is, an interdisciplinary program (applied statistics and operations research in CBA, computer science and mathematics  & statistic Arts and Sciences. 

2016 (Dec. 9) – The Board of Trustees approved a Software Engineering specialization for the computer science major.

Directions and Accommodations

For those who need a reminder about how to get to campus, check out these driving directions! If you’ll be far from home and would like to stay nearby during the celebration, there are several hotel options. Plus, here's a campus map you can use to get around once you’re here!

Hotel Information

Fairfield Inn & Suite in BG
Book your group rate for BGSU CS 50th Anniversary
(Last day to book with the rate, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019)

Holiday Inn in BG
BGSU Computer Science 50th Anniversary
(Last day to book with the rate, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019)

Hilton Garden Inn Toledo/Perrysburg
(Last day to book with the rate, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019)

Home2 Suites Perrysburg:
(Last day to book with the rate,Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019)