$600K gift propels diversity initiatives in computing education at CSU

A CSU student works on her laptop.

Colorado State University is one of six universities selected from across the nation to receive funding from the Center for Inclusive Computing at Northeastern University to help recruit and retain more women in computer science programs and boost the representation of women in the field as a whole. CSU’s computing departments – Computer Science, in the College of Natural Sciences, and Computer Information Systems, in the College of Business – were chosen for the gift because of their strong commitment to increasing the representation of women in computing.

This gift, totaling nearly $600,000, will go to two departments that are focused on evidence-based approaches to creating inclusive educational opportunities for all students.

“Sixty percent of our graduates stay and work in Colorado. The students that we educate become Colorado’s tech workforce,” said Craig Partridge, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “Everyone should have access to high tech jobs, and therefore we must ensure that our programs are accessible and available to everyone.”

With computing skills becoming more important for nearly every field of work, the Department of Computer Science is focused on creating a curriculum and a community where every student can thrive. This includes pursuing strategic partnerships with leaders in inclusive education and computing; ensuring that classes are taught using student-centered methodology; and building strong relationships between advisors and students.

“The gift from the Center for Inclusive Computing will allow us to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in our diversity initiatives,” Partridge said. “This is a crucial next step for our department after being named a BRAID (Building, Recruiting, And Inclusion for Diversity) Affiliate School in 2019. This gift gives us a roadmap to follow to increase inclusion in our programs and will help us to quicken the pace of moving along that roadmap by adding advising staff and revising courses to be more student-centered.”

Leo Vijayasarathy, chair of the Computer Information Systems department in the College of Business, said, “As one of the first CIS programs in the country and among the top 50 in the nation, we are honored to receive this gift to support advancing the next generation of diverse leaders. In particular, we see women taking a more active role in shaping the future of technology and its applications –ultimately connecting business and technology in innovative ways to move our society forward.”

The gift will be used to hire a new computer science student advisor and to revise first- and second-year courses to incorporate best practices in student-centered education. These initiatives build on recent changes to CSU’s computing curriculum that include custom first-year courses for students with and without prior computer science experience, and funding community building through the College of Natural Sciences Learning Community.

About the Center for Inclusive Computing

The mission of the Center for Inclusive Computing at Northeastern University is to increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in computing through evidence-based practices.

About the Computer Science Department, College of Natural Sciences

The Computer Science Department at CSU, part of the College of Natural Sciences, is actively committed to increasing access to computing education and high-tech jobs by creating more inclusive educational opportunities. In 2019, the department was named a BRAID (Building, Recruiting, And Inclusion for Diversity) Affiliate School and enrolled its largest percentage of women undergraduates. The department’s entry-level course was recently added to the University core curriculum increasing access to computer science for non-major undergraduate students.

About the Computer Information Systems Department, College of Business

Colorado State University’s Computer Information Systems Department within the College of Business is focused on transforming lives through business technology. The department is known for its undergraduate and graduate programming and its Masters of Computer Information Systems has been ranked No. 1 in Colorado, No. 7 in the nation and No. 14 for veterans at public institutions. Visit csubiz.com/ITimpact.

About State Your Purpose: The Campaign for Colorado State University

The university’s first $1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign has attracted transformative philanthropic support for people, programs and places at CSU. The campaign surpassed its original goal 21 months ahead of schedule and continues through June 2020, coinciding with the conclusion of a yearlong celebration of CSU’s 150th anniversary. Read more about the campaign’s impact at giving.colostate.edu