By the early 1980s the faculty of Eastern Michigan's Mathematics Department had created an undergraduate major in computer science that included courses in subjects such as data structures, formal languages, compiler construction, operating systems, artificial intelligence, database systems, networks, programming languages, and others. This group of mathematics faculty included John Cooper, Andrew Dempster, Alan Heezen, Hartmut Höft, Kurt Lauckner, John Remmers, Mary Rhodes, Sushil Sachdev, and Michael Zeiger. They, along with several new faculty hires, were split off from Mathematics in 1985 to form the Computer Science Department, still within the College of Arts and Sciences. During the first year of the department's existence, Andrew Dempster served as the interim department head. A Unix-based DEC MicroVAX was acquired by the department; this machine was ultimately turned over to University Computing and is the ancestor of the current emunix.emich.edu.
The first permanent head of Computer Science was George E. Haynam, who came aboard in 1986, having gained his previous professional experience at Case Tech, University of Florida, Vanderbilt University, and Harris Corporation. During the department's first years, an M.A. in Mathematics with a concentration in Computer Science was created in conjunction with the Mathematics Department. (This program still exists and is an ideal choice for students who are attracted to the more formal underpinnings of the field.) Graduate and undergraduate programs in computer science education were established and a 12-hour graduate certificate in artificial intelligence was created. Dr. Haynam developed several personal computer labs and oversaw increases in the sizes of sections to teach the university's principal computer literacy course, COSC 136 (now COSC 101), along with an increase in the number of graduate assistants to support the teaching of the course. He also acquired resources to hire more technical support staff and faculty. By the late 1990s, the department had initiated its own M.S. program in computer science.
Upon George Haynam's retirement in 2000, Hartmut Höft became the department head. Under Dr. Höft's guidance, labs were expanded, most lower-level classes became lecture/lab courses, more faculty were hired, and several new programs were instituted, including a double M.S. program with the Technical University of Karlsruhe in Germany.
Starting in 2005, Dr. Höft took positions as interim associate dean and then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; William McMillan succeeded Höft at this time. In 2012, Augustine Ikeji assumed the duties of department head.
The department continues to expand in both depth and breadth. Recently, courses have been added in mobile application development, data mining, and web science. This is a department that celebrates and embraces diversity: our faculty come from seven different countries on three different continents.