Computer Science

WOU receives generous donation to name new computer science center, dedication planned

Edward B. Wright Center for Computer Sciences

Edward B. Wright Center for Computer Sciences

Western Oregon University has completed extensive renovations to facilities for the Computer Science Division. WOU received a commitment of $300,000 from former Oregon State Senator Frank and Linda Morse, in honor of Dr. Edward B. Wright, which designated the renovated space as the Edward B. Wright Center for Computing Sciences (EBWCCS).

A dedication ceremony and reception will be held Thursday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. on the third floor of the Instructional Technology Center (ITC), where the new facility is located. Speakers at the ceremony include WOU President Mark Weiss, Senator Morse, Wright’s wife Marge and their daughter, Mary Jo Brock, Tommy Love, executive director of University Advancement and the WOU Foundation, and emceed by Dr. David Olson, chair of the Computer Science Division.

The generous gift from the Morses’ was used to establish a scholarship endowment in Wright’s honor for current and future students studying computer science, information systems or computer science/mathematics. Those interested in giving to the scholarship should contact the WOU Foundation at 503-838-8134.

EBWCCS is on the third floor of the Instructional Technology Center and is the home to the Computer Science Division following a two-year $1.3 million renovation. The center’s open floor plan contains two computer labs, a smart classroom and faculty offices. Adjacent to faculty offices are student areas designed to promote a community feel between students and faculty as well as informal seating and several large wall mounted monitors to promote collaboration on projects.

“The creation of this facility is a fitting honor for Dr. Wright,” said Olson. “During his career, he had an enormous influence on both faculty and students. He literally brought the university into the ‘computer age’.”

Wright came to WOU, then Oregon College of Education, in the summer of 1979 as the academic computing coordinator. In addition he was charged with developing a computer science major. Wright established the first computer lab on campus in the basement of the library (now the Academic Program Support Center). In 1982, as one of the authors of the NSF CAUSE, he began offering summer workshops for faculty to integrate computers into their courses. The school began teaching courses, which would apply to the major in computer science in 1980. In 1984, WOU hired its first assistant professor of computer science.  At that time, Wright served as the department chair for Computer Science. The first class graduated in June 1985. He was also instrumental in the conversion of the Campus Elementary School into the Instructional Technology Center as well as the hiring of most of the current faculty in the division. Wright retired in 1999 and continued teaching some courses until 2003. He also worked as a policy advisor to Morse, who said of Wright, “He was an invaluable source of insight in the creation of public policy.” Wright passed away in 2012.

 Interview contacts:
For information about the facility and Wright: Dr. David Olson, chair of the Computer Science Division, 503-838-8029 or olsond@wou.edu

For information about the gift and further giving opportunities: Tommy Love, executive director of University Advancement and the WOU Foundation, 503-838-8134 or lovet@wou.edu

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