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16 September 2021

University of North Texas Receives 2021 CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students With Disabilities in Computer Science

CHICAGO, Sept. 16, 2021 – The Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology (CMD-IT) announced the University of North Texas (UNT) as the recipient of the fifth annual CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science, which includes a $15,000 cash award. 

The University Award recognizes U.S. institutions that have demonstrated a commitment to retaining students from underrepresented groups, such as African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and People with Disabilities, in undergraduate computer science programs over the last five years. 

The decision to recognize UNT was based on the institution’s impressive results from several programs, which include:

Retention Activities

The UNT Computer Science and Engineering Department’s Retention Committee, which works with the College Retention Committee, looks into areas where students are struggling and makes recommendations for addressing those issues. The Committee also meets with students, both individually and in small groups, to further understand those concerns.

The major retention efforts that UNT has implemented are the addition of labs and recitations to 10 courses where there was a high percentage of students who received a grade D, failed, or withdrew. The department also added a peer mentor system. This matched senior undergraduate students who successfully completed courses to students currently enrolled. 

Additionally, the peer mentor system has regularly employed 10 undergraduate students per year in this capacity. Special efforts are made to identify peer mentors, especially women, who are African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native American/Indigeneous.

The overall goal of the retention efforts are to improve student performance in key courses, resulting in an overall increase in graduation rate among students, with attention to students who are traditionally underrepresented in computer science.

The University Award will be presented today at the 2021 CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference. This year’s theme is “20 Years of Celebrating Diversity in Computing,” celebrating the wide range of computing professionals leading innovation throughout the years. As the most diverse tech conference in the country, the Tapia Conference brings together students, faculty, researchers and professionals from all backgrounds and ethnicities to elevate diversity in computing. 

About CMD-IT

CMD-IT is the national Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology focused on the following communities: African Americans/Blacks, Native Americans/Indigenous People, Hispanics/Latinx, and People with Disabilities. Our mission is to ensure that our target communities are fully engaged in computing and information technologies, and to promote innovation that enriches, enhances, and enables these communities, such that more equitable and sustainable contributions are possible by all communities. For more information, please visit www.cmd-it.org.