Dear Carolina Community,
We are excited to share that Stanley C. Ahalt, director of the Renaissance Computing Institute, has been appointed inaugural dean of Carolina’s new School of Data Science and Society. Ahalt’s longstanding experience with RENCI — a collaboration among Carolina, North Carolina State University and Duke University — has well prepared him for this new role in establishing the academic vision and mission of a collaborative hub for data science. The school will be emblematic of Carolina’s collaborative culture and how faculty solve big problems through an interdisciplinary team-based approach.
The School of Data Science and Society will leverage the talents of world-class faculty across disciplines and focus on the foundations and applications of data science to improve lives in North Carolina and across the globe. The new school will also prepare students for a changing workplace and help attract and keep competitive employers in our state. As inaugural dean, Ahalt will recruit and retain distinguished faculty and staff, bring together varied expertise, empower innovation and promote collaboration that benefits the next generation of data science scholars.
Planning for this endeavor is a cross-campus effort years in the making with the full support of the University’s Board of Trustees. The school will launch this fall with its first class of graduates in 2026. We are grateful to everyone involved in the planning process and especially for the dedicated work of the school’s implementation team led by Jay Aikat, RENCI chief operating officer and SDSS senior associate dean.
Since joining RENCI in 2009, Ahalt has advanced data science at Carolina by integrating it into the curriculum in the College of Arts & Sciences and helped launch the Carolina Health Informatics Program in the School of Information and Library Science. He has served on many former data science initiative planning committees and the current School of Data Science and Society working group. In addition, Ahalt helped launch the National Consortium for Data Science, a public-private partnership to support a 21st-century data-driven economy and iRODS, open-source data management software.
Also serving as a professor in the College of Arts & Science’s computer science department and associate director of informatics and data science in the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute, Ahalt is well versed in working across teams. He is passionate about applying data science to address pressing challenges in health care and in environmental and judicial matters. Ahalt has also helped secure $34.5 million in funding for complex data science grants that position Carolina as a leader in this field.
Before coming to Carolina, Ahalt served as executive director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center from 2003-2009 and as a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The Ohio State University for more than two decades. He earned a bachelor and master of science in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech and a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from Clemson University.
We wish to thank Jaye Cable, senior associate dean for natural sciences and mathematics in the College of Arts & Sciences, and members of the search committee for their work in identifying top candidates for this position. We are also grateful to Ashok Krishnamurthy, RENCI deputy director, a research professor of computer science and director for the biomedical informatics service at NC TraCS for serving as interim director at RENCI.
We believe that Stan’s passion for using a team approach in applying data science to society’s greatest challenges makes him the ideal choice to be the head of our new School of Data Science and Society as we prepare to launch it this fall. Please join us in congratulating him on this pivotal role that will help shape the future of North Carolina and beyond.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz
J. Christopher Clemens
Provost and Chief Academic Officer
David L. Boliek Jr.
Board of Trustees Chair