Bank of America has awarded $145,000 to Converse in support of the college’s new data analytics program. Converse will use the funds to design an engaging space that encourages classroom participation and active problem solving, and that includes interactive platforms for students to share in real-time the work they are doing with the instructor and each other through a linked system as they review data sets together.
“Bank of America’s investment in Converse provides exceptional opportunities for our students and faculty in the field of data analytics,” said Krista L. Newkirk, Converse president. “And in turn, Converse will continue to develop graduates who understand not just data science, but the practical application of these principles to their chosen field. The funding from Bank of America will help us continue our growth in our faculty, facilities, and research initiatives – all of which are paramount to successful outcomes in the classroom.”
The learning laboratory will include modern digital resources and infrastructure necessary to support the course content. As the space is designed, consideration will also be given to understand past, current, and potentially future trends based on projected needs in the field. Tandem to the technical capabilities, from furniture selections to classroom layout, the new data analytics learning laboratory emphasizes a dynamic learning environment. As opposed to a more traditional lecture-only model, the new classroom design will encourage active learning, with student involvement and collaboration in the education process.
The partnership between Bank of America and Converse originated after Bank of America’s Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Cathy Bessant, spoke in 2019 at Converse College’s annual President’s Leadership Forum, which is one of several initiatives at Converse to build stronger partnerships with the business community, and to serve as a resource both in terms of professional and workforce development. The relationship with Bank of America includes the Data Analytics Learning Laboratory, as well as benefits aimed towards Converse students and the local community, such as the participation of Bank of America executives as speakers for Converse classes and events, internship opportunities for Converse students, and potential support for starting a Girls Who Code club in Spartanburg.
Bessant, who has led Bank of America’s Global Technology and Operations organization since 2010, delivering end-to-end technology and operating services across the company through nearly 95,000 employees and contractors in 35 countries, recognizes that data analytics is a sought-after skill set.
“I applaud Converse’s rich history of developing their graduates to see the value in technology and the impact it will have on society if created and used responsibly.”
“In business, we need resilient leaders who think cross-functionally to solve challenges,” said Bessant. “I applaud Converse’s rich history of developing their graduates to see the value in technology and the impact it will have on society if created and used responsibly. I am confident that the partnership with Bank of America and Converse will develop women to lead, in not only in the areas of data science and analytics, but across the technology sector as a whole.”
Over the past two years, Converse has added three faculty members who will provide instruction within the institution’s interdisciplinary data science minor that will launch in fall 2020. Dr. Amanda Mangum, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Data Science, has led the development of the data science minor at Converse since she came to the college in 2019. The data science minor, housed in the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science, will consist of courses that provide fundamental skills in processing, analyzing, and inferring meaning from data sets.
“Designing an appropriate learning environment for the study of data analytics will help further prepare students to be marketable in their field of study by providing them with cutting-edge skills.”
With the launch of the data science minor and the focus of data science in its mathematics, business, and Master’s in Healthcare Management programs, Converse is continuing to provide its students with a personalized education that includes the professional and technical skills they need to be successful in their careers. “With nearly 2.5 billion gigabytes of data produced every day, designing an appropriate learning environment for the study of data analytics will help further prepare students to be marketable in their field of study by providing them with cutting-edge skills,” said Dr. Mangum.
Bank of America’s investment in Converse’s data analytics learning laboratory will further develop students’ transferable skills, such as project management, critical-thinking and problem-solving, and open up opportunities across industries in data management, data consulting, consumer and market knowledge management, business analytics, and healthcare informatics.
For more information on the data science minor at Converse, visit https://www.converse.edu/program/data-science/