Spring 2013 | Article By Matt Roberts
James Mead (E ’81) understands the value of launching a new program at a university. As one of the first graduates of biomedical engineering at Tulane, Mead used the analytical skills he gained as an undergraduate to pursue a highly successful career in investment banking.
Now he is paying it forward for future generations of students. In December, Tulane received a $25,000 gift from Mead and his wife Dina to establish the Computer Science Endowed Fund. The fund will support an interdisciplinary field designed to teach students how to find technological breakthroughs and solutions to the world’s most pressing concerns.
Because employment in today’s job market requires a different set of skills, Mead’s generosity is setting the stage for the newest department within the School of Science and Engineering to provide the next generation of leaders for the 21st century. The new Department of Computer Science is a forward-thinking program central to today’s job market, he says.
“We need to prepare students to be more employable upon graduation,” says Mead.
The computer science program began offering introductory courses in fall 2011, and hired three new full-time faculty members last year. Additional hires over the next few years will result in a core faculty of eight to 10 who will offer a stand-alone computer science major and a doctoral program. In the interim, the computer science coordinate major allows students to complete a series of courses in computer science as well as a capstone course that demonstrates the application of computer science to a related subject, which is typically the student’s major in another discipline.
The program has far-reaching interdisciplinary applications, says Dean Nick Altiero, because computer science touches virtually every discipline offered at Tulane. “Computer applications are transforming every discipline including health sciences, business, the liberal arts and social sciences, and architecture,” Altiero says.
After graduating, Mead received his MBA from the University of Virginia and began his career at JP Morgan. Mead has served the real-estate industry as a senior executive of several notable firms and is presently chief financial officer at SL Green Realty, a $15 billion real estate investment trust.
Dina Mead has dedicated her life to raising three children and leading several volunteer organizations. She is currently president of the Junior League of the North Shore of Chicago.
James Mead joined the School of Science and Engineering advisory board in 2011. In addition to supporting the return of computer science to Tulane, the Meads hope their generosity will inspire others to support the new department by contributing to this special fund.
“I’m very excited about Tulane’s renewal and the outstanding environment for new ideas it has created,” says James Mead.
Matt Roberts is a writer in the Office of Development.
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