Howard University to launch data science center, master’s program thanks to a $5M Mastercard donation

BY Sydney LakeFebruary 08, 2022, 2:41 PM
A sign welcomes visitors to Howard University in Washington, D.C., as seen in February 2022.(Photo by Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images)

In late January, Mastercard announced a $5 million donation to Howard University to establish the Center for Applied Data Science and Analytics (CADSA), which will serve as a hub for social impact research at the university. CADSA will also host a master’s degree program in applied data science. That program will launch in fall 2023; further details have not yet been released about the master’s degree.

The news comes as more schools with top business programs announce initiatives related to data science and business analytics. Fortune ranks Howard University as having one of the top 30 full-time MBA programs in the U.S. and also deemed it to have the most underrated MBA program when compared with other business school rankings. In January, the University of California San Diego, which Fortune ranks as having a top part-time MBA program, also announced plans to launch master’s and doctoral degree programs in data science.

“Data science touches everything, and it’s going to continue to be increasingly impactful in everything that we do,” Anthony K. Wutoh, Howard University’s provost and chief academic officer, said in a statement. “We’re grateful for the partnership with Mastercard in enabling us to use data science to answer some of the broader societal questions we believe Howard can significantly impact, including those around health care and economic disparities.”

CADSA opened this semester at Howard and will support research about how data science can help minimize racial bias in the financial services industry, particularly in credit approval processes, according to the school’s announcement. It will also focus on research on Black health, social justice, the environment, and “economic empowerment,” according to Howard.

What’s more, the center will recruit tenure-track data science faculty and will also work with other historically Black colleges and universities to share research and best practices. William Southerland, a biochemistry and molecular biology professor at Howard, serves as the interim director of CADSA.

Mastercard’s donations to HBCUs

Mastercard has also made donations to other historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including Morehouse College and Spelman College to launch the Center for Black Entrepreneurship, which focuses on networking, academic, and mentorship opportunities for future Black entrepreneurs. 

This latest gift is just a piece of an ongoing partnership between Howard and Mastercard. The company also works with the university through the Howard School of Business 21st Century Advantage Program, which helps students with academic, professional, and personal development.

Mastercard launched its $500 million, five-year In-Solidarity commitment in September 2020, just months after the police killing of George Floyd, which spurred large corporations to make more donations related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Part of that commitment was the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, which administers the Mastercard Impact Fund for independent research.

“Howard University is taking a novel approach to addressing data science research by investing in a new generation of professionals who can combine the rigor of science with broader societal impact,” Salah Goss, senior vice president for social impact for the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, said in a statement.

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