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K. Matthew Dames Appointed New University Librarian Access to scholarship, strengthening ties to Boston among the priorities

K. Matthew Dames, a scholar of copyright law, has been appointed the Boston University Librarian. Dames, who succeeds Robert Hudson, will assume the position July 1. Photo by Sam Kittner

K. Matthew Dames, a nationally recognized scholar in copyright law and innovator in library sciences, has been appointed the next Boston University Librarian. Currently Georgetown University Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources and Services, he succeeds Robert Hudson, who is retiring after more than 40 years at BU. Dames will assume his new position July 1.

At Georgetown, Dames has overseen use, placement, and access strategies for the library’s 3.8 million-volume principal research collection. He has led the library’s large-scale digitization of archival materials chronicling Georgetown’s history with slavery, while driving key initiatives aimed at modernizing, preserving, and archiving the university’s collections.

“We look forward to welcoming him this summer and to working with him to reenvision a 21st-century library that remains a proud focal point for our research and scholarly community for many years to come,” Morrison says.

Prior to taking the Georgetown post in 2023, Dames was the founding director of the Syracuse University Copyright and Information Policy Office, then associate dean for research and scholarship, and later interim dean of libraries and University Librarian. While at Syracuse, he launched new digital preservation efforts as well as a fund to develop new library spaces and services.

Dames says he sees a particular opportunity in Boston University’s “commitment to open access and the work that Bob Hudson and others in the library have done to make that a priority,” including adoption of a policy in 2023 that requires faculty to opt out if they don’t want to allow open access to their scholarly work online.

Dames says BU has one of the leading African studies libraries in the world, and he hopes to do great things to extend the reach of that collection to scholars both in and outside of the University. The librarian says he hopes to bring “a slightly different perspective about how to present some of the materials,” including “where to go for partnerships that perhaps we haven’t explored before, and really doing a good job at representing through our collections and services the entirety of the city of Boston.”

Dames says the University’s desire to be a cultural institution at the center of Boston was one of the things that most attracted him about the job. He says he looks forward to strengthening the library’s ties with the city through the area library consortium as well as directly. “I think there are things we can do in the city of Boston,” he says.

The author of more than 60 articles, Dames earned an undergraduate degree from Bernard M. Baruch College, City University of New York, a master’s in library and information science from Syracuse, a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law, and a PhD in information studies from Syracuse.

Dames grew up in the Bronx and acknowledges being a Yankees fan, but he’s looking forward, he says, to his first visit to Fenway Park. He knows Boston well from his time as a Northeastern law student, when he was a disc jockey on MIT’s WMBR-FM and at an after-hours club on Stanhope Street called the Loft, spinning underground house music. He remembers well the record shops he haunted in those days and says he’s still an active collector.

“Boston was and still is a great vinyl-record-buying town,” he says. “I cannot tell you how much money I spent on records as a poor law student.”

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University Unveils New Crowdfunding Platform

University Unveils New Crowdfunding Platform Learn about guidelines for raising money at workshop tomorrow

BU’s new crowdfunding platform helped the BU Dance Team raise more than $18,000 for this year’s National Dance Alliance Collegiate Dance Championship, and more than $19,700 for the same competition last year. Photo courtesy of the BU Dance Team

This weekend, the BU Dance Team traveled to Daytona Beach, Fla., for the National Dance Alliance Collegiate Dance Championship. Flights, competition fees, and choreography were largely covered, thanks to more than $18,000 the team raised on BU’s new crowdfunding platform.

“The hardest thing for us is that on top of school, we practice all the time and we perform at the men’s and women’s basketball games, so it’s hard to find time to fund-raise,” says coach and former member Kaitlyn Busconi (Questrom’09), whose team won the Division I team performance. “The best thing about crowdfunding is that it’s easy to fit in with other commitments, because a lot of it is sending emails and pushing out our fundraising page on social media.”

The University has instituted a new policy and website to help academic departments, student groups, and other members of the BU community raise money for research, service trips, projects, events, and other BU-specific ventures. The platform is not meant for students who seek to raise tuition dollars or money for nonacademic travel; student clubs, organizations, and the Athletics teams and groups are not required to use the platform.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 13, faculty and students are invited to a workshop that will provide an overview of the new policy and information about how to launch a campaign.

Nicole Hawkes, associate provost for strategic initiatives, says that the growing popularity of programs like third-party crowdfunding websites such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe suggested that there was an opportunity for the University to set up its own crowdfunding platform to help individual students, student groups, and faculty raise funds for their projects and ideas.

Unlike those fundraising giants—which raised an estimated $34 billion last year alone, according to—BU’s new platform delivers the money to the fundraisers whether or not they reach their goal. And unlike those other platforms, BU’s doesn’t charge fees for projects looking to raise less than $50,000 (indirect costs will be charged on research above that amount, and donors’ gifts are tax-deductible). Other benefits, Hawkes says, include the ability to tap into BU’s 300,000-plus alumni network for donations, as well as to use the University for technical, administration, communication, and marketing support.

“Crowdfunding takes a tremendous amount of effort; it’s not just putting your project out on the platform and leaving it alone for six weeks,” says Hawkes, whose team has been working on the new policy for about a year and a half. “A successful campaign really relies on having a good network in place. We want to help the BU community navigate these ins and outs and raise as much money as possible for their projects.”

A few groups volunteered as guinea pigs for the new crowdfunding site. As well as the $18,000 raised for this year’s National Dance Alliance Collegiate Dance Championship, the Dance Team raised more than $19,700 for the same competition last year. The FIRST Robotics team raised $5,433 for the FIRST Robotics competition, while Cara Stepp, a Sargent College assistant professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences, raised $9,010 to fund an open-source video game designed to help children born with a cleft lip or cleft palate learn to speak more clearly.

Researchers especially stand to benefit from crowdfunding, says Gloria Waters, vice president and associate provost for research, who notes that crowdfunding is already being used by faculty and students at many universities to raise money for things like gap funding.

“Crowdfunding could be used to obtain pilot funding for a project that might then allow the faculty member or student to apply for larger sums from more traditional sources,” Waters says. “Alternatively, for students, they may be able to raise all the funds needed to carry out a project for a course or a thesis in this way.”

A growing number of schools, such as the University of Virginia, the University of Colorado Boulder, and Cornell, have launched crowdfunding platforms similar to BU’s.

In a nutshell, here’s how the BU platform works: once a group’s or individual’s application has been chosen to be featured on the BU website, the group or individual is paired with a mentor from Development & Alumni Relations (DAR) to develop project descriptions, email blasts, and marketing materials. Campaigns will typically run 10 to 12 weeks—the first 4 weeks for preparing the campaign and thinking about strategy and the rest for reaching out to contacts and pushing the campaign to potential donors.

DAR new media producer Caitlin Cushman, who worked on the crowdfunding launch team, points to the Dance Team as a good example of a successful crowdfunder. This year, the members snail-mailed letters to family and friends asking for donations for their nationals trip and at the same time were pushing out the campaign to the broader public on social media channels.

Cushman says another benefit of crowdfunding is that it gives students, faculty, and alumni a way to connect. “It’s an opportunity for donors to find something that speaks to them when they’re making a gift,” she says. “Instead of donating to a general fund, they can choose one project and see where their money is going.”

The Crowdfunding at BU workshop will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, April 13, at 4 p.m. at the Questrom School of Business, Room 426-428, Rafik B. Hariri Building, 595 Commonwealth Ave. The event is open to faculty, staff, and students; register here.

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M K Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi)


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a great sage. He received an unusual amount of love, respect, and dedication. Indians crowded around him, so they could see him and hear what he had to say about one planet. He had come to free them from their slavery, and to them, he was almost like God. The entire world bowed in awe before him. Even his opponents had a lot of respect for him.


27:Mahatma Gandhi brought freedom to India and new method of solving disputes Non-Violence show at Thai Human Imagery Museum on MARCH 27,2023 in Nakornprathom,Thailand


M K Gandhi was born in Porbandar, Gujarat, on October 2, 1869. His mother’s name was Putlibai, and his father’s name was Karamchand Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi wed Kasturba in an arranged union when he was just 13 years old.

Gandhi spent a year studying law at the University of Bombay before transferring to the University College London, where he earned his degree in 1891 and was enrolled in the English bar.

He moved back to Bombay and worked as a lawyer there for a year before moving to Natal, South Africa, to work for an Indian firm.

Gandhi was involved in the fight for Indian independence when he returned home. He gave a speech at Indian National Congress conferences and rose to become one of its leaders.

The people referred to Gandhi as Mahatma and Bapu. Gandhi led the renowned Satyagraha, also known as The Salt March to Dandi, from March 12 to April 6, 1930.

The statue of the Salt March to Dandi

Gandhi stated at the start of the Second World War that India could not participate in the conflict until it achieved freedom. His “Quit India” campaign resulted in massive arrests and a level of resistance never before seen.

India attained independence in 1947, which was followed by the 1947 Indo-Pakistan War and India’s partition. Gandhi remarked, “My body will have to be divided into two pieces before India is divided”.

Gandhi passed away on January 30, 1948. While he was going to a prayer gathering, he was shot by Godse 3 times in the chest.

EventsDate Birth October 2, 1869, Education at University College London1891 The Salt March to DandiMarch 12 to April 6, 1930, Left the party 1936 Independence1947 DeathOn January 30, 1948

Principles, Practices, and Beliefs

Gandhi was a great personality with his unique principles, practices, and beliefs.

Truth, non-violence and faith, simplicity were the main principles of Gandhi. Most of his movements in every field were mainly based on non-violence. According to him, it takes more effort to remain non-violent in an oppression situation than follow violence. Hence, he follows the practice of Ahimsa or non-violence.

He thought there should be a basic respect for all great religions, not just tolerance, and that all great religions were fundamentally equal. Gandhi believed that if one wants to change the world, first he wants to start with himself.

Literary Works

Gandhi wrote a lot of books. Here are a few of his literary works −

Hind Swaraj, a 1909 Gujarati publication.

He was the editor of several publications, including the Gujarati, Hindi, and English periodicals Harijan, Indian Opinion, Young India, and Navajivan.

The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Gandhi’s autobiography, was also written.

In addition to Satyagraha in South Africa and Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, he also wrote additional autobiographies.

Legacy and Depictions in popular Culture

Gandhi was considered a legend all over the world. Gandhi, however, writes in his autobiography that he never respected the title and that it frequently caused him anguish.

Gandhi had an impact on significant political movements and leaders. Martin Luther King and James Lawson, two prominent figures in the American civil rights movement, both drew on Gandhi’s writings while formulating their theories of non-violence.

Famous European physicist Albert Einstein wrote to Gandhi in 1931 and later referred to him as “a role model for the generations to come” in an essay.


M.K. Gandhi is the greatest-known leader of India and also called Mahatma and Bapu. He always followed the path of truth and non-violence. He was a man full of simplicity and bring about the idea of using swadeshi goods by boycotting foreign commodities. He was loved by everyone, regardless of nation and religion. As a freedom fighter, he faced many hardships, but never stand out from his ethics and practices. Due to his legacy and remarkable contributions to India’s independence from the British, Gandhi is the nation of India.


Q1. When did Gandhiji elect as president in Congress?

Ans. In 1924 Gandhi was elected as president of the congress, in a Belgium session of the Indian National Congress. He was elected with the help of Gokhale and his group members.

Q2. How does Gandhiji explain the experience of the test in his school life?

Ans. During a school inspection, an education officer instructed the kids to write five English words each. Mohandas had spelt the word “kettle” incorrectly. The teacher noticed it and gave him a sign to copy from the student next to him. He would never think of cheating. He was so unable to understand that the teacher was truly requesting to be dishonest.

Q3. Where was Gandhiji’s first speech?

Ans. Gandhiji made his first public appearance at Banaras Hindu University on February 4, 1916, upon his return from South Africa. He spoke to the crowd at BHU, which was primarily made up of impressionable children, princes, and other bejewelled etc.

Campaign For Boston University Surges Forward

Campaign for Boston University Surges Forward BU community sees benefits of $720 million raised so far

Nearly 100,000 alumni have contributed to the Campaign for Boston University so far. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

When BU announced just over two years ago that it was launching its first comprehensive fundraising campaign and that its goal was $1 billion, it seemed University officials were shooting for the stars. Now they’re well on their way.

The Campaign for Boston University has already reached more than $720 million and is on pace to meeting its goal by 2023.

“We haven’t had a sophomore slump, like a lot of campaigns do,” says Scott Nichols, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “There’s usually an initial burst of energy and then nothing else happens for a while. We’ve been a straight line up.”

“I’ve been immensely gratified by the progress we’ve made towards our goal of raising $1 billion,” says President Robert A. Brown. “Alumni and friends have lots of choices about where they direct their charitable giving. That they are choosing to generously support Boston University reflects, I believe, the very real progress we are making as a community of students, faculty, and staff committed to excellence. It is a virtuous cycle, as the generosity of alumni and friends gives us the means to build even better programs and increase our quality and impact as a major private research university.”

The campaign, titled Choose to Be Great, has flourished through a healthy combination of generous gifts and grassroots support. Injections of goodwill and credibility at the campaign’s onset came from Board of Trustees members, who put up $178 million. Other major gifts—such as $25 million from Rajen Kilachand (GSM’74) to support the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College and $10 million to renovate a residence hall for its students, $25 million from Frederick S. Pardee (SMG’54, GSM’54, Hon.’06) to endow the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, and $18 million from Sumner M. Redstone (Hon.’94) to renovate and add a new building to the School of Law—helped to propel the effort. And nearly 100,000 individual contributors, a third of alumni, have given to the campaign.

Kenneth Feld (SMG’70), a University trustee and chairman of the campaign committee, says alumni are eager to reconnect with their alma mater. Boston University “changed people’s lives,” says Feld, who is chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, Inc., which owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and Disney on Ice. “It changed my life. And I know that’s happened to a lot of these alumni. When you think of the amount of money raised internationally, it says a lot about the prestige of Boston University—not just in the United States, but globally.”

Feld emphasizes that the campaign “is not just raising money to raise money, but to articulate the mission for the University and to determine in which areas Boston University can be the best in the world.”

A walk around BU’s Charles River and Medical Campuses illustrates the campaign’s accomplishments. In mid-September, the University hosted ceremonies for three new facilities in one week—the Yawkey Center (formerly the Center for Student Services), which bundles a new dining facility and multiple student resources under one roof on East Campus, LAW’s Sumner M. Redstone Building, and the new admissions reception, the Alan and Sherry Leventhal Center. The School of Medicine Student Residence, which opened in fall 2012, provides the University’s first on-campus housing option for as many as 208 medical students. And New Balance Field in West Campus doubled the University’s field capacity when it opened last fall, allowing BU to launch men’s lacrosse and bring home its itinerant field hockey team.

In addition to enhancing the University’s footprint, the campaign has improved recruitment and retention of top-notch faculty. At last count, 42 new endowed professorships have been created. It has also allowed the University to offer more financial assistance through 172 new endowed scholarship funds.

The outside world has noticed the campaign’s impact, Nichols says. Moody’s awarded BU two bond-rating upgrades in the past five years. The University’s standing in the U.S. News & World Report rankings moved from the low 50s to the low 40s, a gain that was driven in part by alumni participation in events and giving. And BU gained admission two years ago to the Association of American Universities, joining 62 other leading research universities across the country.

Nichols says that BU students are also on track to complete the one million hours of community service they pledged as part of the campaign effort.

Alumni participation in University events has increased almost ninefold, he says. BU averaged two alumni events a week from 2005 to 2006, compared to three alumni events hosted every day now around the world. Nichols credits Steve Hall, vice president of alumni relations, and his team for creating more opportunities for alumni to reunite and network.

“That’s big,” he adds, “because alumni engagement is the secret ingredient to our success.”

Nearly three-quarters of the way to their fundraising goal, campaign officials don’t plan to coast to the finish line.

“I think people have become true believers in what Boston University can do,” Feld says. “They want to be part of it. And I think that’s the key: to sustain that, maintain it, and meet new people that have an interest” in giving.

“The key question at this stage in the campaign is: Do we have more prominent, successful alumni and friends to talk to?” Nichols says. “And the answer is, You bet!”

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Femina Shakes Boston University Female Shakespeare Troupe

Renaissance Women Meet Femina Shakes, BU’s all-female Shakespeare troupe

During the summer months, BU Today is revisiting some of the past year’s favorite stories. This week, we feature theater.

Mackenzie Devlin was trying to be ugly. The five-foot-seven, blue-eyed blonde has been told she’s the ingenue type, and in a typical production of Henry IV, Part I, she would play a noble lady.

But in this College of Fine Arts production, she was Falstaff—a corpulent, uncouth knight with a penchant for booze and bawdy humor. Her hair was mussed. She wore a fake belly. “I allowed myself to be completely uninhibited and
 just as grotesque as I could possibly be,” she says. She loved every minute of it.

Devlin (CFA’15) was performing in a version by Femina Shakes, a CFA initiative that puts on one all-female Shakespeare play a year. The productions enable junior and senior performance majors to stretch themselves in roles they would rarely have the opportunity to tackle with traditional casting. Freed from stereotypical gender constraints to explore themes of power and authority in new ways, they emerge more confident—and with greater ambition for meatier roles.

“I don’t want to be this actor who’s always pretty onstage,” says Devlin. “I want to play deeper and more troubled and layered people, and I really felt like playing Falstaff was a way in.”

When Christine Hamel, a CFA assistant professor of theater, 
launched Femina Shakes in 2011, one
 of her goals was giving these women juicier parts, and a chance to 
explore their untapped sides. Jim Petosa, director of CFA’s School of Theatre, had asked Hamel to direct a Shakespeare play featuring those not performing major roles that season. The overabundance of women in the program made it difficult to fulfill the school’s promise of guaranteed casting.

Julius Caesar was a perfect fit. That inaugural Femina Shakes production had a homegrown feel, with the performers “owning” every aspect, Hamel says. They painted the studio with graffiti written in Latin to create an incendiary Roman atmosphere, with the characters “speaking truth to power.” She and Petosa found the project such a positive experience for the actors that they decided CFA should continue to offer it. Four productions followed: Titus Andronicus, directed by Hamel, Henry V, directed by Lillian King (CFA’14), Romeo and Juliet, directed by Adrienne Boris (CFA’15), and Henry IV, Part I, directed by guest director Meg Taintor. This year’s production, Twelfth Night, runs tonight, Thursday, October 22, through Sunday, October 25, at CFA.

“Very few plays,” Shakespeare or otherwise, “have passed the test of having two women speaking to each other for any sustained amount of time about something other than a man,” says Hamel.

Playing nontraditional roles gives women the chance to explore larger themes and questions—like “to be or not to be.” “I’m hungry to see more female characters that are at the philosophical, intellectual, or emotional epicenter of something really big,” she says. “I think that is probably why women are really attracted to the role of Hamlet.”

Henry V wore lipstick

Although the women of Femina Shakes take on male roles, they don’t strive to become men. No fake mustaches, no embarrassing codpieces. Nor do they aim to imitate men with their physical behavior. “We’re playing characters as opposed to playing gender,” says Hamel. For the sake of clarity, the actors do decide their characters’ sex—playing key male roles like Romeo as men is common but not a rule—and they give the audience costume-related clues, like pants and pulled-back hair. They might even redefine how gender is visually portrayed. For example, Hamel says that in Henry V, which Femina Shakes set in post–World War II London, male characters were played as men whose appearance was that of sturdy Rosie the Riveters, in pants and lipstick. But however gender is portrayed, it’s not the focus of the actors’ preparation.

“In Julius Caesar,” Hamel says, “it was more interesting to me to have an actress take on Mark Antony as a character who happens to be a man, as opposed to figuring out how to be a man and then playing Mark Antony.” Thinking more about temperament and status “helps the actors to find the parts of themselves that have to deal with what it’s like to have power…and do a lot of things that aren’t about being somebody’s wife or sister or daughter.”

An example: Jade’ Davis (CFA’16), who played the impetuous warrior Hotspur in Henry IV, Part I, and Ivy Elwell (CFA’15), who played Hotspur’s wife. Elwell says her onstage interaction with Davis was about a marital relationship formed by their words and goals as opposed to sexual chemistry.

“I think at a certain point in rehearsal,” Hamel says, “the ensemble and myself and whoever is in the room stop seeing women and start seeing characters, which is really exciting.”

What the audience may notice more in an all-female cast is the gender bias inherent in the play. Lines like Hotspur’s “Constant you are, / But yet a woman” can jar the ear even more than usual. Violence can also become more disturbing for audiences. In the scene in Titus Andronicus preceding the offstage rape and mutilation of Titus’ daughter Lavinia, those playing aggressors removed Lavinia’s nylons and gagged her with them. For Eliza Rose Fichter (CFA’13), who played Lavinia, the scene “didn’t feel scary to do at all” because of the trust she shared with fellow performers. But she believes that for the audience, the unfamiliar experience of “watching female bodies do this to another female body was scarier and more dangerous, I think,” than watching a man—the expected aggressor—perform the same actions.

No apologies

Titus Andronicus is a Roman general who bakes his enemy’s sons into a pie and breaks his own daughter’s neck. To take on such a lead, Caroline Rose Markham (CFA’13) had to reevaluate nearly everything about herself.

“I think there is an apology in everything that I say and do,” she says. “There is always this tinge of, ‘I am so sorry to say this so directly, but I need you to…’” In the role of Titus, “there was none of what I associate with the female apology. I will literally stab you if you are in my way.”

As Titus, Markham also became conscious of ways she conveyed gender through body language. It was challenging “to find a neutral way of doing everything,” from walking and sitting to drinking a bottle of water. Walking to and from rehearsal, she’d practice “trying to eliminate all the gendered physical behaviors that I learned my entire life.”

Now, the assurance she found playing a bad-ass general in combat boots and “a giant Mohawk that looked like a Roman military helmet and made me feel like I was six feet tall” goes with her everywhere—from studying abroad at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (“I played Hamlet and I felt ready to go. There was no how do I be a man? or how do I do this?”) to auditioning for Boston-area productions (“It helps me walk into a room and do whatever piece I want”) to the restaurant where she trains fellow servers to walk and act with confidence.

Davis had a similar experience playing Hotspur: “I felt much bigger, bolder. I felt so unstoppable playing Hotspur.” Now, she says, “I will never be timid to audition for big roles.”

Women cast as women in Femina Shakes productions are empowered in other ways. Their characters may be confined to the domestic sphere or even victimized, but that doesn’t mean they’re weak or powerless. “Lady Percy doesn’t necessarily have physical power over Hotspur,” Elwell says, but she does have power in her words—in the rich language Shakespeare offers her “to really assert herself” in demanding answers from her husband and more of a share in his life.

Hamel hopes the heightened ambitions Femina Shakes actors tap into won’t just influence the classical roles women are offered, but the roles that are created for them.

“If you have a generation of really strong actors who are hungry for the kinds of roles they got to play when they performed as Mark Antony and Titus Andronicus and Henry V—assertive and strong and really thinking globally about how to change the world, not how do I change my husband?—you might have playwrights writing roles for those actors,” she says.

If that comes to pass, someday an actor may actually have to check her calendar when offered the chance to play one of Shakespeare’s men: she may be too busy portraying extraordinary women.

Julie Butters can be reached at [email protected].

A version of this article originally appeared in the fall 2023 issue of the College of Fine Arts magazine Esprit.

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Cornell University: Shaping The Future Of Technology Through Data Science And Statistics

Cornell University was founded in 1865 in Ithaca, New York by Andrew D. White and Ezra Cornell, the latter famously stating “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” The founders could not have envisioned the full extent of modern data science, of course, but scientific research of all types has been at the heart of Cornell’s mission since its beginning. Statistics itself – the precursor or original discipline underlying data science – first came to prominence at Cornell after World War II, with the presence of two seminal figures in the field, Jack Kiefer and Jacob Wolfowitz, as faculty members. Since then, Cornell’s Department of Statistics and Data Science (as it is now called) has hosted and continues to be the home of many prominent researchers in theoretical and applied statistical methods.  

Data Science Programs at Cornell

Cornell University offers two undergraduate degrees in statistics and data science, as well as the M.S. and Ph.D., all of which enroll numerous students who find successful careers upon graduation. But its flagship Master of Professional Studies in Applied Statistics, or M.P.S., is unique and is the only program of its type offered by an Ivy League university. The M.P.S. is a two-semester Master’s degree program that provides training in a broad array of applied statistical methods. It has several components: (i) a theoretical core focusing on the underlying mathematical theory of probability and statistical inference (with a 2-year calculus prerequisite); (ii) a wide selection of applied courses including (but not limited to), data mining, time series analysis, survey sampling, and survival analysis; (iii) certification in the SAS® programming language (required); (iv) a professional development component including in-depth training in career planning and job searching, interviewing and resume writing, professional standards and etiquette, etc.; and (v) a year-long, hands-on, start-to-finish professional data analysis “capstone” project.  

The Dynamic Leadership

Dr. John Bunge is the founding director of the M.P.S., in 1999-2000, and served in that role for 12 years. The position was then held by another Statistics professor, and at the end of his (6-year) term Dr. Bunge again became Director and will continue through 2023. Dr. Bunge has witnessed the program growth from an initial enrollment of 6 students to its current steady-state of 60, which is about the institute’s maximum capacity. Interestingly, the number of M.P.S. applications seems to continue to increase so that the demand for the available spaces becomes ever more intense. “We are content with many of the decisions we made in designing the program (as long ago as the 1990’s), but we continue to monitor professional trends in data science and to adapt our program accordingly,” Dr. Bunge said. “In particular in the past decade we have added a second “concentration” to the M.P.S., so that students may now specialize more in classical (and modern) statistical data analysis; or (the second concentration) in more computationally oriented data science, including topics such as Python programming, database management and SAS, and big data management and analysis.”  

Prominent Features of the Program


Offering Extraordinary Industry Exposure

The main type of practical exposure offered to M.P.S. students is the M.P.S. project. During the fall semester, the faculty identifies a number of current applied research projects, some within Cornell or from Weill Cornell Medicine (the university’s medical school in New York City), some from external clients in the private or nonprofit sectors. The M.P.S. class is then divided randomly into teams of 3 or 4 students, and each team ranks the available projects by preference. The faculty then assigns projects to teams, attempting to accommodate preference as well as possible (this is known as the “fair item assignment” problem). Teams then have until the end of the spring semester to complete their projects. In the course of this, the team must communicate continuously with the client; formulate and re-formulate the problem in statistical terms; organize and manage relevant data (provided by the client); carry out statistical analyses using suitable computational methods and software; and finally provide both a written and an oral presentation of the results. Upon completion, the projects are evaluated by the students themselves, the clients, and the faculty, and each year one or two “best project” awards are made. This is the closest experience to actual on-the-job statistical consulting that can be obtained within the academy, and it is very effective both as a learning process and as proof of competency for M.P.S. graduates. In addition, Cornell allows M.P.S. students to elect to take an additional semester of study, which then introduces the opportunity for an internship in the intervening summer, another form of practical exposure for students.  

Overcoming Academic and Industry Challenges

Dr. Bunge feels the most significant challenge is simple, and characteristic of any aspect of the technological or scientific enterprise: keeping abreast, or preferably ahead, of current developments. In practical terms, for example, what software will the students need to be familiar with? SAS® is still important but R is increasingly so, not to mention scripting languages such as Python, and big data resources or environments such as Hadoop. It is a major undertaking to stay current with developments in these areas much less to predict their future directions, and academics, while experts in their own fields, are less conversant with trends in industry, government, banking and so forth. From a broader perspective, what will be the industries of the future, and how will they apply data science? A forward-looking program cannot ignore, to take just three examples, quantum computing, genome editing (CRISPR), and for-profit space exploration (e.g., asteroid mining). These may seem like science fiction at present, but in no time at all, we will be sending our data science graduates to work in these fields, and we must prepare them accordingly, he said.  

Remarkable Accomplishments of the University

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