In 2017, the Allen School partnered with ten other leading computer science programs (Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Illinois, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and UT Austin), under the leadership of CMD-IT (the national Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT), to establish the LEAP Alliance. In 2021, CMD-IT expanded the LEAP Alliance program to include three additional Cohorts. The Allen School continues to participate in the original LEAP group – LEAP Alliance Cohort #1 – and now also participates in LEAP Alliance Cohort #4 along with Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgia Tech, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Berkeley, and Illinois. While each of the Cohorts ultimately aim to increase the diversity of the professoriate in computer science at research universities as a way to achieve diversity across the field, they operate at different points along the academic continuum.
LEAP Alliance Cohort #1 works to increase the diversity of the Ph.D. graduates at the institutions that are the top producers of computer science faculty at research institutions. The hypothesis is that by impacting the top producers of faculty, we will impact faculty diversity - and thus student diversity and success. LEAP Alliance Cohort #4 aims to increase diversity in the undergraduate programs that send the most students on to the graduate programs that are the top producers of faculty at research institutions.
The LEAP Alliance is focused on four communities that are historically underrepresented in computing: African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and People with Disabilities.
- According to the CRA Taulbee Survey, less than 5% of tenure-track faculty at Ph.D.-granting universities are from underrepresented groups.
- Diverse faculty are important to serve as role models, and to bring diverse perspectives to research and the environment.
Student Cohorts: LEAP Fellows and LEAP Scholars
- The cohorts at the graduate level are recognized as LEAP Fellows. The objective is to have multiple students from historically underrepresented communities start graduate studies each year at each LEAP institution. The benefits of having students in cohorts is well known, as it builds community, provides a support structure, and provides a sense of belonging.
- The cohorts at the undergraduate level are recognized as LEAP Scholars. The goal is to support undergraduate students from groups historically underrepresented in computing and connect them to opportunities such as undergraduate research that may lead them to graduate school and beyond.
- Cross-institutional sharing of effective strategies for recruiting, admission, and retention.
- Community building among LEAP Fellows and Scholars - within institutions and across institutions.
- Mentoring groups for LEAP Fellows and Scholars across LEAP institutions.
- Professional development opportunities.
LEAP Faculty and Staff Advocates in the Allen School
- Implement effective recruiting, admission, and retention strategies, in close collaboration across the LEAP institutions.
- Serve as a point-of-contact for LEAP Fellows and Scholars.
- Graduate LEAP Fellow Advocates are:
- Staff: Les Sessoms and Elise deGoede Dorough
- Faculty: Ed Lazowska
- Undergraduate LEAP Scholar Advocates are:
- Staff: Jenifer Hiigli, Rakeb Million, and Jan Cuny
- Faculty: Maya Cakmak