Walton Family Gives JBU $8M for Data Analytic, Computer Science Programs

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John Brown University in Siloam Springs received an $8 million grant from the Walton Charitable Support Foundation for its data analytic and computer science programs.

Of the $8 million, $2 million will be used to endow an academic chair for data analytics. The remaining $6 million will create an endowed scholarship to support students majoring in computer science or data analytics.

Both programs are set to launch this fall.

“We are excited to expand our academic programs in these critically needed professions,” JBU President Charles Pollard said in a news release. “This new endowed scholarship will help keep JBU affordable for students seeking to pursue data analytics and computer science in the context of a rigorous Christian comprehensive education.”

“We know from talking with top employers that data analytics is an industry where holistically educated graduates are in high demand,” added Ryan Ladner, dean of the Soderquist College of Business. “This grant will help us create a quality program and help interested students develop important analytical skills while maintaining the distinctive soft skills our employers have come to expect from JBU graduates.”

The academic chair will be filled by Linda Vytlacil, former vice president for data science/global data & analytics platforms at Walmart Labs.

JBU’s computer science program has 12 emphasis options, ranging from gaming/web development to cybersecurity and bioinformatics.

In addition, the university has received another $1.5 million from other donors to endow a faculty position in computer science. A search is underway for the educator that will fill that chair.

“Various employers gave us specific input on what they want to see from computer science graduates, and we tailor-made a program that will equip students with both hard and soft skills needed in the industry. This training at JBU will prepare each student to be a valuable team member and future leader,” said Ted Song, chair of the computer science department and coordinator of diversity and innovation.