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SU receives Boeing gift to improve retention of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science and engineering students

Written by Dean Forbes
January 11, 2017

The Boeing Company has made a gift of $250,000 to Seattle University to study and improve retention of women and underrepresented minorities in its undergraduate engineering and computer science programs. The university was one of three Washington higher education institutions to receive donations to enhance STEM training and opportunities for local students. 

The Boeing gift will fund a new, five-year program to study and improve diversity. The first project will be data collection and analysis to measure retention rates in each program, determine factors behind these rates and identify any shortcomings. Recommendations to improve retention and their implementation would occur next. Those could include improving advising, creating a mentoring program, redesigning courses and creating a summer bridge program. Any changes would be implemented 12-18 months from now and their impact measured for three years to assess their effectiveness. 

"Seattle University is grateful to receive this significant and generous gift from The Boeing Company," said President Stephen Sundborg, S.J. "Boeing's gift recognizes the commitment Seattle U has made to be a leader in recruiting and retaining women and people of color in our engineering and computer science programs. The gift also complements ongoing initiatives at the university to be a model for diversity and inclusive excellence, both of which go hand-in-hand with educational excellence." 

"Boeing will be a significant jobs provider in Washington for decades to come. Our hope and goal is that those future jobs will continue to be filled by kids who grow up right here in the state," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. "We are working hard today to give Washington students opportunities for employment within aerospace, manufacturing and other STEM-related fields when they graduate. Despite the always dynamic aerospace industry, Boeing remains consistent in its investment in our future here in Washington." 

At Seattle U, the fall 2015 freshman class in computer science was 29 percent female, the largest in university history. More than 15 percent of Seattle U's STEM students are underrepresented minorities.