Faculty and Staff
Fortune S. Mhlanga, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Applied Computational Sciences
Senior Vice President for Enterprise Data and Analytics
Professor, Computer Science and Data Science
Ph.D., Computer Science, New Jersey Institute of Technology
M.S., Computer Science, New Jersey Institute of Technology
B.S., Computer Science, Harding University
Fortune Mhlanga is a proven leader with a strong track record of developing and managing organizations in the academic, private and public sectors with a specific focus on computing and technology. He joined Meharry Medical College in August 2020 as executive director of the Data Science Institute. He became the founding dean of the School of Applied Computational Sciences, the fourth school in Meharry’s proud history, after leading the transition of the DSI to the school level.
Previously, Mhlanga was the dean of the College of Computing and Technology and professor of computer science, data science and software engineering at Lipscomb University. His tenure began in August 2011 as director of the then newly-established School of Computing & Informatics. He led the school through a period of growth that resulted in its transformation into the College of Computing & Technology in 2014, offering eleven bachelor’s degrees and three master’s degrees.
Prior to his appointment at Lipscomb, Mhlanga was professor of computer science in the School of IT & Computing (SITC) from August 2007 to July 2011. He also served as director of the SITC during his last year at ACU. From 2002–2007, he served as associate professor and subsequently professor and inaugural chair of the computer science department at Faulkner University. Mhlanga was director of the Informatics and Electronics Institute at the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 1998–2002. He was a senior lecturer in the computer science department at the University of Zimbabwe from 1993 to 1994, and subsequently served as chair of the department until December 1997.
Mhlanga’s applied research and development areas include ICT capacity and utilization in developing countries; knowledge economy (and society) strategies for development; ICT in the framework of entrepreneurial and economic development; ICT policy and regulation for developing countries; and creative economy strategies for development. His pure research areas include database management systems; algorithms; query algebras; software engineering; and, modeling and simulation. He has published widely in these areas. He received the 2014 Distinguished Paper Award and the 2009 Meritorious Award from the Association of Information Technology Professionals. He has been recognized by the country of Georgia National Science Foundation for acting as an international evaluator of the projects for the “State Science Grants Competition 2009,” as the Outstanding Young Zimbabwean (Scientific and Technological Development Category) by Junior Chamber International, and by Who’s Who in executives and professionals.
Mhlanga’s experience also includes several domestic and internationally-based academic and research fellowships. In 2017, he received the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship through which he provided curriculum co-development and helped train and mentor the research and teaching of graduate students and faculty at Ebonyi State University in Abakaliki, Nigeria. He did similar work in 2010 for the University of Zimbabwe through a fellowship with the International Organization for Migration.
Mhlanga has applied his research and development expertise as a consulting software engineer on various mission-critical projects, including development of Bill and Melinda Gates funded commercial software rDNA: reporting Development Network Africa in 2009 for Pan-Africa journalists, and development of U.S. Department of Defense funded commercial software JILS: Joint Immersive Learning Simulation in 2006. In 2000 and 2001, he represented Zimbabwe on a Commonwealth Expert Group on IT which was established at the instance of the Commonwealth High Level Review Group by Commonwealth Heads of State to examine the constraints preventing the wider adoption of ICT in developing countries and possible ways of overcoming them. Subsequently, he spearheaded Zimbabwe’s Knowledge Economy initiative whose overall purpose is to promote and encourage Zimbabwe to invest in its national information infrastructures so that it can participate in knowledge-based development and experience the predicted social and economic benefits.
Mhlanga earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Harding University in 1984, and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1989 and 1993, respectively. His Ph.D. work focused on database systems and resulted in conception of a Data Model and Query Algebra for Office Documents.