CSC News

June 04, 2024

Ken Tate to Retire After 23 Years of Service

Ken Tate, Director of Engagement & External Relations, has announced his retirement at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. Tate joined the department of computer science in 2001 after a successful career as a senior leader at Nortel Networks. Over the past 23 years, Tate solidified his position as an iconic figure in department history, making an indelible mark on the success and upward trajectory of the department.


Hired in 2001 to provide direction to a relatively new corporate relations program, with little more than a concept and a handful of interested companies, Tate created a vision and a structure that ultimately made the ePartners Program a model that has been emulated at universities across the nation. Since 2010, ePartners have contributed almost $14M in total corporate support, over $4M of which has been totally unrestricted support.


Tate has also played a critical role in helping add more than 30 new endowed scholarships, fellowships, and professorships. The department now has more than 40 department-specific endowments with a record combined market value of more than $14.1M.  


In total, it is estimated that Tate has helped raise more than $20M in total cash gifts to benefit the department over the course of his career.


Tate has also been the driving force behind numerous iconic events, programs and initiatives that have become an important part of the department’s rich and vibrant history. Some of these include:

  • Launching and managing the Labcorp ‘Leadership in Technology’ Speaker Series, widely considered one of the premiere speaker series at NC State University. Now in its 16th year, the series has featured almost 100 incredible leaders in technology, enriching the academic experience of thousands of NC State students.

  • Launching the department’s Computer Science Alumni Hall of Fame, which recognizes truly outstanding alumni who have demonstrated exceptional professional, entrepreneurial and/or service achievements.

  • Representing the department, college and/or the University to assist the state’s recruitment efforts for the likes of Fidelity Investments, MetLife, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Google, and many more.

  • Planning and coordinating key celebrations and special events such as the departments 40th & 50th Year Celebrations, Technical Symposium, a Geek-a-thon, and more. Along the way, Tate has helped bring many iconic figures to campus to engage with CSC students including Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak.

  • Restructuring and managing the department’s Strategic Advisory Board (SAB), a dynamic group of industry executives and academic leaders who provide input and guidance that is critical to helping shape the department’s strategic direction.

Tate has also been a key player in the department’s efforts to broaden participation in the computer science discipline, developing and launching a comprehensive strategy to enhance the department’s outreach efforts. He established the department as an Academic Alliance member in the National Council for Women in Technology, and developed a campaign to better position thousands of high school teachers and counselors to influence students. As part of the approach, Tate launched and secured funding for Aspirations Scholarships, the Faces of Computer Science campaign, the CSC Student Ambassadors Program, and the LadyWolf Secrets Campaign. When the outreach initiative launched more than a dozen years ago, female enrollment was hovering around 10%. The department now boasts a record 668 females or 25% of the student enrollment! In recognition of his efforts, Tate was named one of the 2018 Triangle Business Journal's "Leaders in Diversity" award winners.

Tate’s contributions to the department have resulted in numerous awards and accolades over the years. In 2004, he won the Pride of the Wolfpack award.  In 2004 and 2011, he won the ACM/AITP "Most Outstanding Staff Member" Award.  In 2014, he won the ACM/AITP "Outstanding Graduate Staff" Award. In 2015, he won the ACM/AITP "Outstanding Undergraduate Staff" Award. In 2016, he was awarded an IBM Faculty Award. In 2018, Tate was recognized as the department’s inaugural winner of the 'Person of Exceptional Performance' or PEP Award. And just this year, he was nominated by the department for the College of Engineering Awards of Excellence.


In 2023, CSC Alum and Hall of Fame inductee – Tony McLean Brown gave a $1M gift to the department in Tate’s honor with whom he has worked closely with for more than two decades in supporting various needs across the department and the University. A portion of the gift helped to launch the Ken Tate Scholarship for Student Success in Computer Science, which will provide merit- and need-based scholarships for CSC undergraduates with a preference toward students participating in the Computer Science Ambassadors program, which Tate launched and served as an advisor.


“Ken and I have known each other for a long time, and our relationship is very special to me,” says Brown. “He has been a fantastic ambassador for the Computer Science Department and has an incredible capacity to bring people together to do good for NC State students. Our family wanted to do something to honor all he has done for the Computer Science department and the University before he retires. Ken is one of the finest individuals that I’ve met at NC State…and that goes all the way back to 1978!”


Upon learning of Tate’s plans to retire, below are just a few of the tributes that have come in:   

Ken has a heart for the University, the CSC Department and most importantly, our students. He has made a lasting impression on the department, and on me, through his tireless focus on corporate partnerships and his passion for outreach. With his institutional knowledge and rich history in the department, it will be more than difficult to find his replacement, as I don't think there is a "replacement" for Ken Tate!

Dr. Greg Rothermel, Professor & current CSC Department Head

Ken is the reason I became re-engaged with the department almost 20 years ago. It has been a blessing and an honor to work alongside Ken. His passion, dedication, and commitment to improving the visibility of the department has been second to none. Most important, I consider Ken a friend for life.   Congratulations, my friend!!

Mark Wyatt, CSC Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee & Distinguished Engineering Alumnus

In 2001, we needed to replace the individual who was leading our nascent ePartners program.  I was the Computer Science Department Head then.  Ken was one of the candidates.  Although he did not have any development experience, I was impressed with his energy and his love for NC State.  I thought that what he brought to the position was just what it needed.  What he has accomplished has been truly amazing.  He was exactly what the position needed!

Dr. Alan Tharp, Professor Emeritus & former CSC Department Head

Ken is one of the most amazing professionals I have ever worked with. His unquestionable impact on the department has amplified tremendously department's ability to support students and faculty, and advance CSC mission and goals at the level that surpasses all expectation.  He is one of the best!

Dr. Mladen Vouk, Distinguished Professor, Vice Chancellor for Research & former CSC Department Head

Ken exceeded his job duties and expanded his mission in every direction possible – and the computer science department is forever transformed. He has built bridges that touched the lives of all students, all faculty, all alumni, and all industry partners. He has made the department friendlier, more accessible, and certainly more successful -- benefiting so many students' lives and leading to economic growth for the state. Ken brings fun and joy into everything he does – and spreads joy and spirit to all around him.

Dr. Laurie Williams, Goodnight Distinguished University Professor in Security Sciences

I first met Ken when he joined CSC 23 years ago and took on the responsibility of shepherding the Strategic Advisory Board . Ken has been a constant in my life since then. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him and watching him help grow and nurture the department and the Board. He created the very successful Epartners program which became a benchmark for many departments across NCSU and the US. Ken is also an avid NCSU sports fan and we often exchange commentary at football and basketball games. More important is what Ken does every single day! He brings a big smile and a handshake to everyone he meets. He makes every person’s day brighter and the world a better place!

Keith Collins, CSC Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee & Distinguished Engineering Alumnus


Please join us in extending our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Ken Tate for his outstanding contributions and dedicated service to the Department of Computer Science at NC State University! We wish him the best in his retirement.


If you’d like to join Tony Brown and others who have contributed to the Ken Tate Scholarship for Student Success in Computer Science, you can do so online at this special link.


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