John Brown University announced Wednesday (July 22) an $8 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation in support of the university’s data analytic and computer science programs.
An academic chair for data analytics will be endowed with $2 million. The remaining $6 million will create an endowed scholarship to support students majoring in computer science or data analytics. Both programs are new for fall 2020, according to a university news release.
“We are excited to expand our academic programs in these critically needed professions,” said Dr. Charles Pollard, JBU president. “This new endowed scholarship will help keep JBU affordable for students seeking to pursue data analytics and computer science in the context of a rigorous Christian comprehensive education.”
The academic chair will be filled by Dr. Linda Vytlacil, former vice president for data science/global data & analytics platforms for Walmart Labs.
JBU’s computer science program has 12 emphasis options, ranging from gaming/web development to cybersecurity and bioinformatics. JBU has also received $1.5 million from other donors toward its $2 million goal to endow a faculty position in computer science and a search for that faculty position is underway.
“Various employers gave us specific input on what they want to see from computer science graduates, and we tailor-made a program that will equip students with both hard and soft skills needed in the industry. This training at JBU will prepare each student to be a valuable team member and future leader,” said Dr. Ted Song, chair of the computer science department and coordinator of diversity and innovation. “We’re excited to know that interested students will have access to additional scholarship funds to help them attend JBU and make a positive impact on the Northwest Arkansas region.”