Last Updated: September 2023

The MSCS department has committed to organizing community conversations to take stock, reflect on progress, and collectively agree on new efforts to improve the department. We outline current initiatives the MSCS department is engaged in to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within our community.


MSCS Transformation Committee

We have established a faculty/staff committee dedicated to facilitating and coordinating department-level efforts for inclusionary and equity-minded practices and policies. The committee partners with members within and outside the MSCS community, such as the MSCS student advisory board, the VP of Institutional Equity, and the Title IX and Non-Discrimination Office. 

The current (AY 2023-2024) committee members are:

  • Suhas Arehalli
  • Andrew Beveridge
  • Dave Ehren
  • Beth Ernst
  • Brianna Heggeseth
  • Paul Herstedt
  • Jason McDonald
  • Taylor Okonek
  • Shilad Sen


Student Advisory Board

In Fall 2022, we created the MSCS Student Advisory Board (SAB). Members of this board serve as a bridge of communication between MSCS students and staff/faculty, increasing transparency, improving collaboration, and ensuring that more voices are heard and reflected throughout our community and department decision-making. Advisory Board members also have the opportunity to introduce and facilitate their own inclusivity and accessibility initiatives funded by MSCS (e.g., community-building events, skill-sharing opportunities, and topical discussions). The board meets monthly (the last Tuesday of the month from 11:30 am-1:00 pm). 

Each year the department will seek nominations for board members and work with the current SAB to select a group of students for next year’s board. In identifying this group, we will seek diverse perspectives with respect to the students’ majors, years in school, ideas for the board, and identities/backgrounds. Among these students, 2 or 3 will represent the board at our monthly department faculty/staff meetings (the first Tuesday of the month from 11:30 am-1:00 pm), where the student advisory board has a fixed slot on the agenda to share information and raise concerns from the MSCS student community.

The current (AY 2022-2023) members are:

  • Senior: A’di Dust (CS), Aurora Hively (MATH)
  • Junior: Sarah Tannert-Lerner (MATH), Jingyi Guan (STAT/CS), Tom Hongyi Li (STAT/CS)
    Marchelle Beougher (MATH – fall), Paige Turner (STAT – spring)
  • Sophomore: Shengyuan Wang (CS/MATH)
  • First year: Alicia Severiano (CS/STAT), Stephanie Miles (CS/STAT)


Community Guidelines

We have established a set of community guidelines to make explicit our expectations for respectful behavior conduct in and out of the classroom to foster and support our community.​​ Their goal is to help all of us build a pleasant, productive, and brave community where everyone has an equitable opportunity to learn. The guidelines also provide resources for how to report issues or concerns that may arise. 

We have also outlined our Preceptor and Faculty Availability Guidelines to make sure academic support is accessible while also setting expectations for availability that supports a healthy work/life balance for all employees.


Share a Concern or Idea

If you have a concern/issue or suggestion/idea related to DEI and fostering a sense of community, we encourage you to discuss it with any faculty or staff member, including those on the MSCS Transformation Committee, a student on the MSCS Student Advisory Board, or to share this information with the department anonymously through an MSCS Community Concerns form that individuals on the MSCS Transformation Committee monitor. All responses will be read, brought to the committee’s attention, and addressed appropriately. 


Community Conversations

Student-focused conversations

Initiated in spring 2022, the department organizes opportunities once a semester for students to come together to discuss the MSCS community. The goal of these conversations is for students to share their experiences in an intentional space and identify department practices and policies that help or hinder community building, areas where students could contribute to building stronger communities, and areas where faculty could contribute. The themes and takeaways are shared with the MSCS Student Advisory Board and faculty and staff so that concrete plans are made for addressing issues or ideas raised.

Faculty-facilitated conversations

Initiated in spring 2023, the department organizes opportunities once a semester for students, faculty, and staff to come together to discuss the impact of ongoing efforts, keep each other accountable, and suggest adjustments to departmental policies and programs that may be more fruitful in supporting the community as a whole. 


Preceptor Training

All student preceptors (Mac name for teaching assistants) must participate in regular preceptor training. In addition to receiving pedagogical training, students consider their role in student learning with the goal of ensuring students of all backgrounds feel supported and welcome. To facilitate growth and improvement, we seek mid-semester feedback from students in MSCS classes about preceptors and share that constructive feedback with preceptors. We seek once-a-semester feedback regarding the preceptor training to continue to improve the programming.


Curricular Innovations

Our department has long prided itself on curricular innovations, from our novel calculus sequence to having one of the first undergraduate data science programs in the country. Our goal is to be similarly innovative with respect to curriculum that supports inclusive learning environments. MSCS faculty work to:

  • Create welcoming classroom environments 
  • Design courses that involve active learning
  • Design course materials and assignments with accessibility and universal design in mind
  • Consider alternate grading strategies such as “Un-grading” that align assessment with learning goals
  • Reduce focus on high-stakes assignments/assessments and provide more lower-stakes opportunities to promote growth in learning
  • Reduce barriers to opportunities such as removing a minimum GPA requirement to apply for honors

Make use of best pedagogical practices from Serie Center resources.