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UnitedHealth Group Announces $8.25 Million Data Science Initiative Partnership With the Atlanta University Center Consortium Share a Spelman College Press Release

For Immediate Release

Joyce Davis
Director of Marketing & Communications
Spelman College
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia 

Ronna Charles
Director of Marketing & Communications
Morehouse School of Medicine

L.D. Platt
UnitedHealth Group

Data Science InitiativeATLANTA (July 2, 2019)  — Spelman College is part of a new initiative designed to prepare students within the Atlanta University Center Consortium to meet the growing demand for data scientists and data analytics experts.

Funded by the UnitedHealth Group, the five-year $8.25 million investment in the AUCC and its membership: Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Morehouse School of Medicine, will fund the launch of the AUCC Data Science Initiative. The new initiative will offer technical classes for students who want to specialize in data science or learn data analysis to give them a competitive edge in the job market.

“The colleges in the Atlanta University Center, for decades, have been in the vanguard of educating African Americans who succeed in STEM fields,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “This gift is an investment in our commitment to continue that primacy in STEM by making the AUCC a center of excellence for the study of data science across a range of disciplines in medicine and the liberal arts.”

The partnership comes as the number of job openings in the United States for data professionals is projected to reach more than 2.7 million by 2020, according to a national study.

“Many universities have refocused existing programs or developed new efforts to respond to the need for this, yet these responses are still insufficient based on projected demand,” said AUCC Executive Director Todd Greene. “The UnitedHealth Group funding will help to establish the base for this broad initiative, including hiring an accomplished director. Additionally, through UnitedHealth Group internships, guest lectures, faculty development opportunities and other joint efforts, our students will greatly benefit from this partnership with the world’s largest managed health care company. We are grateful for UnitedHealth Group’s anchor investment in our vision, and we are in active conversations with other potential partners to assist us in other aspects of our plan.“ 
In addition, producing data savvy graduates prepared to take on careers in the industry, the institute will serve as an intellectual hub that promotes the exchange of ideas, said Mentewab Ayalew, Ph.D., associate professor and vice chair of biology.  

“Some knowledge of the skills necessary to extract knowledge from big data, or at least to communicate with those who have the expertise, is a must,” said Dr. Ayalew. “This is the perfect moment to build a data science institute to further support, and build synergies with various existing initiatives relating to Spelman’s pursuit to infuse data science into the curriculum.”

Spelman has a long history of collaborating on impactful data-driven projects. Last year, the College received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop TRIPODS+X: EDU Collaborative Education: Data-driven Discovery and Alliance.

The collaborative project between Spelman, Morehouse, Agnes Scott College, and Georgia Institute of Technology was developed to support faculty in the development of data science curricula and prepare a diverse set of students for the data workforce.

Spelman students interested in data analysis like Taylor Brown, C’2021, are already taking advantage of Spelman’s data-related course offerings. This summer Brown will conduct research at the University of Virginia, where she will use mortgage data to investigate the relationship between the rate of home loan denials and factors including income, race and sex.

“Working closely with economic professors has allowed me to take the analytical skills gained in class, and transfer them to a data science environment,” said Brown. “These opportunities have helped me gain the crucial skills needed to prepare me for the workforce.”

The partnership is just one way UnitedHealth Group is making significant investments in creating a 21st century health workforce that is ready to deliver personalized, culturally competent care, particularly in underserved communities, said David S. Wichmann, CEO of UnitedHealth Group.

“Technology in general, and data science in particular, are critical to better meeting the needs of our customers,” said Wichmann. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support this initiative because it aligns with our desire to ensure our workforce for the future is diverse and possesses the skills needed to propel our company for continued success.”

About Spelman College 
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 51 among all liberal arts colleges and No. 1 among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit

About the Atlanta University Center Consortium

The Atlanta University Center Consortium is the world’s oldest and largest association of historically Black colleges and universities. Comprised of four member institutions – Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College, the Consortium is a vibrant intellectual community with a long tradition of scholarship, service and community engagement. AUC Consortium, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that operates on behalf of its members to advance each institution’s mission and strategic goals by fostering collaboration, managing center-wide initiatives, offering services that benefit our students and community, and leveraging our shared resources.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.


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