Rose-Hulman Bequest to Boost Diversity in Computing

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(photo courtesy of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) (photo courtesy of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology)
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A Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology graduate has left the school a $1.1 million bequest to support diversity in its computer science programs. The institute says Richard Conn's gift will also boost initiatives including expanding global experiences and increasing the number of computer science graduates.

Conn, who graduated from Rose-Hulman in 1976, served as a computer programmer and software specialist for the U.S. Army, Texas Instruments Inc. (Nasdaq: TXN), General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and more. He was also an adjunct faculty member at the Air Force Institute of Technology and schools including Monmouth University, the University of Cincinnati and Southern Polytechnic State University. He passed away in 2016.

J.P. Mellor, head of the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, says women earned 18 percent of computer science degrees awarded by Rose-Hulman in the 2015-2016 academic year, which is higher than the national average. He says rapid growth in the need for computer science graduates has led to a shortage of qualified teachers, which he says can disproportionately impact women and underrepresented minorities.

Rose-Hulman launched its computer science major in 1968 and the academic department in 1981. The school says the department has seen sustained enrollment increases for more than a decade, and now represents its second-largest major.

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