Bank of America gift supports Data Science Initiative, lecture series

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bank of America is committing $1.5 million to the Exponential Campaign to support research at UNC Charlotte in the Data Science Initiative and to sponsor a series of marquee lectures at the University.

The donation establishes an endowed fund supporting UNC Charlotte’s Data Science Initiative and creates an Endowed Chair in Security Analytics, which positions the University at the center of the data analytics revolution.

The endowed chair will strengthen the leadership and impact of UNC Charlotte and the Charlotte region within the North Carolina Data Science Initiative. Research in security analytics will create synergies within the College of Computing and Informatics’ existing strengths in the Center of Configuration Analytics and Automation and the Charlotte Visualization Center, as well as UNC Charlotte’s campus-wide Data Science Initiative.

“Bank of America is pleased to build upon its longstanding partnership with UNC Charlotte,” said Bank of America Charlotte Market President Charles Bowman. “The University is central to Charlotte’s role as a hub for innovation, a center for civic engagement and a region focused on leading the way in information technology.”

Chancellor Philip L. Dubois said, "Bank of America ​has been ​a steadfast partner to UNC Charlotte in so many ways​ for almost 50  years​, with volunteer participation on the Board of Trustees, endowed professorships and support for the creation and implementation of the Applied Technology Program. We are excited that Bank of America is once again expanding its partnership with the University to support the Data Science Initiative, along with a series of ​ important public lecture events. We are very appreciative that we enjoy the continuing confidence of the bank's leadership in the work of our faculty, staff and students."​

Educational programs in security analytics will help address the severe talent shortage in this field by educating the next generation of strategic thinkers, thought leaders and security professionals to make risk-based decisions using data-driven evidence, deep technical knowledge and the ability to take proactive security actions.

Data science is designed to help businesses and governments alike make responsible decisions about and protect rising amounts of individual information. The discipline of data science combines aspects of computer science, modeling, applied mathematics and statistics.

UNC Charlotte is surrounded by top financial services, energy, retail sales and distribution, advanced manufacturing and technology companies that provide an ideal environment to utilize a suite of skills only an urban research university can accommodate.

“I think UNC Charlotte is really unsung but an incredible data science and engineering hub,” said Cathy Bessant, Bank of America chief operations and technology officer. “Even if we weren’t located in Charlotte, we would work aggressively with UNC Charlotte because the talent and the energy they put behind (the data science program) puts them at the forefront of some of this thinking. We have some of the best professors in the world in informatics.”

A portion of the gift will sponsor the UNC Charlotte Civic Series presented by Bank of America, which includes three marquee lectures: The Chancellor's Speaker Series, the Barnhardt Seminar on Ethics and the TIAA Lecture.

The Chancellor's Speaker Series celebrates the University's role as the region's thought leader and brings nationally renowned speakers to the area to speak on current issues.

The Barnhardt Seminar on Ethics is a forum for discussion on business realities and their ethical implications for society. Attendees are business professionals; community leaders; and UNC Charlotte faculty, staff and students.

The TIAA Lecture is an endowed lecture and hosts distinguished and notable speakers on a variety of topics.

As part of the gift announcement and to showcase the caliber of the Civic Series, UNC Charlotte hosted a discussion featuring Bank of America's Bessant and noted author, forensic anthropologist and professor Kathy Reichs; the conversation was streamed live on Inside UNC Charlotte.