CSC News

April 23, 2024

Department Stalwart, Matt Stallmann to Retire After Four Decades of Service

Highly renowned and respected professor and Assistant Director of Graduate Programs, Dr. Matthias (Matt) Stallmann, will enter phased retirement effective July 1st, after 40 years of faithful service to the department.


Born in Giessen, Germany, Stallmann moved with his family to the United States when he was just seven years old. His desire to pursue a career in academia was strongly influenced by his father, an accomplished math professor. “He thoroughly enjoyed his job and encouraged me to do research by suggesting ideas for science projects in middle and high school,” said Stallmann. The encouragement worked as he went on to obtain his BS and MS degrees from Yale, and his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Colorado. 


Stallmann joined the computer science department at NC State University in 1984, when the department was still very much in its infancy. It was located in the College of Physical and Mathematical Science (PAMS) and didn’t have a PhD program at the time. Nonetheless, he advised three students in other disciplines (Woei-Kae Chen and Thomas Hughes in Electrical and Computer Engineering; David Michael in Operations Research), while the department worked through its transition into the College of Engineering (COE) and ultimately launched its PhD program in 1990.


Over his 40-year career, Stallmann’s impact on the department’s evolution and upward trajectory cannot be overstated. 


He chaired the Computer Acquisition and Planning Committee that purchased the department's very first centralized email server and outlined a plan for a network of workstations. When the department became part of the COE, he presented the plan to the dean and worked with college leaders to create the AFS/EOS system, which was used for decades.


Stallmann worked with colleagues to write the department’s first teaching load policy, allowing active researchers to teach three rather than four classes per year (one of these had to be a core undergrad class). He was also instrumental in writing the procedure for peer evaluation of teaching, a procedure that is still used today.


As chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, he made radical changes in course requirements, leading to the current much smaller set of core required courses and expanded opportunities for electives.


As chair of the Graduate Oversight Committee, he led the effort to replace the sit-down written qualifier with a requirement that a student demonstrate their research capability by writing a short paper and giving a presentation. Under his leadership, the committee also relaxed the core course requirement, so that students could choose from a menu of theory and systems courses, rather than be required to take prescribed courses.


Stallmann is currently working with a task force to make the CSC PhD program more supportive and nurturing, particularly for students from underrepresented groups. Part of the plan is for students to move through the program at roughly the same pace and to take courses on work/life balance, mentoring, and teaching early in their careers.


Throughout his career, Stallmann has cherished his role as an official or unofficial mentor for many students and junior colleagues.


In his role as Assistant Director of Graduate Programs for the department, he has advised thousands of students on their graduate studies. He also serves as the co-chair of the department's Strategic Planning Committee and NC State’s representative to AccessComputing, an NSF-funded project to increase the participation of people with disabilities in computing fields. He served four times as Accreditation Coordinator for ABET/CAC. He has served as an AGEP-NC Fellow and as an Associate Editor of the ACM Journal of Experimental Algorithmics.


As a researcher, Stallmann’s interests in Algorithms and Theory of Computation have spanned numerous topics, but he mainly focused on combinatorial optimization emphasizing intractability (NP–completeness). He is currently working on a handful of projects related to this including looking at the theory and practical implications of NP–completeness.


As an instructor, Stallmann has taught many courses, but one of his favorites was CSC116, an introductory Java programming course. The combined lecture/lab format made it possible to spend time watching students learn and guiding them individually, a process he greatly enjoys.


The impact that he has made on our students and alumni has been profound. Below are just a few statements we have received from alumni recently:


Dr. Stallmann’s practice of educating students on the practical applications of theoretical computer science concepts has left a lasting impact on me, and I apply this knowledge daily. His approachability and the open-door policy after his graduate classes have contributed to creating a supportive atmosphere for all students.

Prabhu Narayansami, MS 2008, currently at Broadcom: Data Loss Prevention Enterprise Security Product team.


During my undergraduate career as a blind student, I faced challenges due to systemic inequities in our education system. Dr. Stallmann not only helped me navigate these various difficulties but mentored me and other students on how to turn these challenges into opportunities. It is not possible for me to overstate the profound significance of his efforts and kindness throughout my undergraduate and graduate education.

Sina Bahram, BS 2007, MS 2011. President, Prime Access Consulting.


To say Dr. Stallmann is merely a 'good professor' would be a gross understatement. Among all professors I encountered during five years of MS and PhD courses at NCSU, Dr. Stallmann stood out as the best teacher, and the homework assignments in his [grad level algorithms] course were the most challenging and rewarding.

Woei-Kae Chen, PhD, ECE 1991, Professor Emeritus, National Taipei University of Technology, Taiwan.


After his retirement, he hopes to remain a source of help and information for students and wants to continue working with them.


When asked what accomplishments he was personally most proud of during his 40 years in the department, Stallmann responded with incredible humbleness. “That is hard to say,” he said. “I have spent all of my career here striving to make the department a better place for all faculty, students, and staff. Thanks to all the people I have had the pleasure to work with, the department now has a wonderfully collegial work environment.” 


Please join us in extending our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Matt Stallmann for his outstanding contributions and dedicated service to our department, NC State University, and the great state of North Carolina.



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