A $1 million gift from the Fletcher Jones Foundation will make it possible for the University of La Verne to create an endowed professorship in artificial intelligence (AI) and grow its program in a field expected to transform global productivity.
“The new Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor for Artificial Intelligence will help the university expand its academic offerings in AI and cybersecurity, with the goal of growing our diverse pipeline of graduates in these in-demand fields,” said University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman.
Demand for people trained in AI and cybersecurity far outpaces the number of candidates available for companies to hire, said Seta Whitby, chair of the university’s Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering. The university’s new programs “will give our graduates a competitive advantage and prepare them for jobs in many fields.”
A nationwide search for a full-time endowed professor in AI will begin this spring.
“AI and cybersecurity are emerging as critical disruptive technologies of the future, and skills in both areas are in high demand,” said Kerop Janoyan, university provost. “We look forward to growing our program and opening doors to these sought-after careers for our students.”
The university's Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering currently offers a concentration in artificial intelligence and a certificate in cybersecurity. The AI concentration is the first to be offered in Southern California at the Bachelor of Science level, said Whitby.
As a Hispanic Serving Institution with a core value of promoting diversity and inclusivity, the University of La Verne’s increased presence in programs preparing AI and cybersecurity professionals will help alleviate the shortage of women and people of color in a field where they are significantly underrepresented.
This is the third faculty position within the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of La Verne to be endowed by the Fletcher Jones Foundation. Previous awards support an endowed chair in computational biology and an endowed professor in biology. Proceeds from each endowment support a portion of the salary for the designated faculty member and allow the university to attract and retain top experts in the fields.
“We are so very grateful to the Fletcher Jones Foundation for its belief in and support of the University of La Verne,” Lieberman said.