David Fulton 

‘We were friends working together for something wonderful’ | University bestows honorary doctorate upon founder of BGSU computer science department

Dr. David Fulton was the founding chair of the BGSU computer science department, the first in the state

The Bowling Green State University Department of Computer Science is one of the most respected and sought-after programs in the nation today, due in large part to the vision of department founder Dr. David Fulton, who will be awarded an honorary doctorate from the University during Spring 2023 Commencement, in recognition of his life's dedication to the field.

Fulton saw the potential of computer science and its societal impact long before it became a mainstream field. During his tenure at BGSU from 1970-80, he led the growth of Ohio's first computer science program into the full-fledged department that it is today, creating a foundation for a modern and significant academic department by recruiting talented faculty, introducing innovative coursework and championing practical student experience. 

Under his guidance, the computer science department grew rapidly, attracting top faculty and students from around the world. Fulton also was a brilliant educator known for his innovative teaching methods, which combined theoretical concepts with practical applications, providing students with a solid foundation in the field. 

“At BGSU and throughout his career, Dr. Fulton saw possibility in ways others simply could not,” said BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers. “As the founding chair of the Computer Science Department at BGSU, Dr. Fulton was focused on ensuring the new program remained relevant in the quickly developing field, creating a foundation for a meaningful and relevant academic program – a distinction it still holds today.” 

At the 2019 celebration of 50 years of computer science at BGSU, Fulton reminisced about the department’s founding.  

“We were all young and enthusiastic, with no ‘old guard’ to tell us ‘no,'” he said about first faculty members Joan Stepanski, Lee Miller, Jack Woolley, Rick Thomas and Ann Marie Walsh. “We were friends working together for something wonderful.”

While at BGSU, he founded the computer consulting company Dacor, Inc., which provided programming services to major corporations and also offered real-world project experience to students and faculty. In the 1980s, Fulton created FoxBASE, which eventually evolved into the award-winning FoxPro and multiple companies. In 1992, he sold Fox Software to Microsoft, becoming that company’s vice president for database products, a leadership role he held until retirement.

The Fulton String Quartet, made up of Sarah Munson and Gracie Hayes, violins
Sujin Kim, viola, and Liz Mathiesen, cello, perform during an April 7 concert.

Fulton also is renowned for his extensive music knowledge. He played violin from an early age and performed professionally with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut. A major private collector of Cremonese instruments, Fulton has produced books and several Emmy award-winning documentaries about violins and music. 

Fulton earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1964 and a master’s and doctorate degree in mathematical statistics from the University of Connecticut in 1968 and 1970.  

Today, the BGSU computer science department is one of the most esteemed programs in the country. Its graduates are in high demand, and many have gone on to work for the biggest names in technology, including Microsoft, Apple and Google.

"The continued success of the department is a testament to Dr. Fulton's vision and leadership," said Dr. JK Jake Lee, associate professor and chair of the David and Amy Fulton Professorship in Computer Science. "His legacy will continue to shape the field of computer science at BGSU and beyond for generations to come."

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 04/26/2023 02:47PM