The Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT) announced Howard University as the recipient of the fourth annual CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science. The University Award recognizes US institutions that have demonstrated a commitment and shown results for the retention of students from underrepresented groups in undergraduate Computer Science programs over the last five years. The award is focused on the following underrepresented groups: African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and People with Disabilities. University of North Texas received the award on September 16th at the 2021 CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Virtual Conference. The award included a $15,000 cash award.
The CMD-IT University Award decision was based on University of North Texas (UNT) impressive results from several programs including:
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 was 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.