The University of Texas at El Paso has been named the third recipient of the University Award given by the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology.
“UTEP produces more Hispanic master’s and doctoral graduates in engineering than any other university in America,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. “Our retention programs for underserved undergraduates in computer science are very strong and we appreciate this recognition.”
“CMD-IT is pleased to award The University of Texas El Paso with the CMD-IT University Award,” said Valerie Taylor, CMD-IT president and CEO. “Their commitment to the retention of underrepresented minorities and people with disabilities through the implementation of innovative and effective programs is having a measurable impact.”
Leaders said the decision to recognize UTEP with the University Award was based on the campus’ impressive quantitative reported results, which reflect high retention and graduation rates, and qualitative reporting on various retention programs.
“We are thrilled and honored for our Computer Science Department to be recognized with this University Award,” said Theresa A. Maldonado, dean of the College of Engineering.
“Having this award presented to our department chair, Dr. Ann Gates, at the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing is particularly special. I have worked with Dr. Tapia for many years, and he is an absolute star and champion for diversity and inclusion. Dr. Gates has sustained very impactful initiatives and programs in our Computer Science Department that have also had impact on the College of Engineering and at other institutions across the country.”
Several of UTEP’s initiatives were highlighted as directly impacting retention, including:
• UTEP leads the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, a consortium of over 40 institutions with a focus on the recruitment, retention, and advancement of Hispanics in computing.
• Microsoft named El Paso a TechSpark City. TechSpark is a national program aimed at fostering greater economic opportunity and job creation in computer science and related skills.
• Implementation of a set of cooperative-learning practices, which have been shown to increase student achievement.
• Peer-Led Team Learning is a model of instruction for introductory STEM courses that introduces a peer-led workshop as an integral part of the course. In it, a student who was previously successful in the course is recruited to lead students in weekly workshops to problem solve and discuss course content. This approach helps minority students succeed.
• The Computer Science Department’s NSF-funded Revolutionizing Engineering and Computer Science Departments bolsters equity and inclusion, student professional development, and career pathways.
“We want to express our immense gratitude at being named the recipient of this award,” said Ann Gates, Ph.D., professor and chair of UTEP’s Computer Science Department. “At UTEP, we have long recognized the importance of inclusion and equity as a means of advancing discovery. The unique perspectives of our 21st century student demographic and faculty are vital contributions to research and innovation. We look forward to collaborating with CMD-IT and other partners to continue to create pathways for diverse approaches in computing.”
The award recognizes U.S. universities that have retained students from underrepresented groups in computer science programs. It was presented Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in San Diego, California.