Funds to support development of faculty and infrastructure, continuing MassMutual’s history of partnering with Massachusetts universities’ data science programs
SPRINGFIELD and BOSTON, Mass., August 24, 2021 – Expanding its collaboration with collegiate-level data science programs across New England, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) today announced a $1 million gift to the Boston University (BU) Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences (CDS).
This funding, which started in June and will be distributed over three years, will aid the university’s unique teaching and research programs in data science through supporting a non-tenure track faculty member from outside of academia to bring real-world expertise to the classroom setting; backing a program manager and software engineer to lead experiential learning activities; organizing efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in data science; and awarding six $10,000 MassMutual externship stipends to undergraduate students.
MassMutual – which believes in helping advance the field of data science in its home state – leverages the technology to create customized, seamless products and experiences that best meet the evolving digital needs of its customers and policyowners. The effort with BU is intended to help the firm gain access to up-and-coming talent, recruit individuals with field-specific experience, and stay abreast of the most advanced knowledge in the space.
The new initiative joins MassMutual’s growing list of higher education partnerships. Over the past six years, the company has made similar commitments including:
- Co-founding the MIT Future of Data, Trust, and Privacy initiative that helps members, including MassMutual, become leaders amidst a changing policy landscape by developing technical tools to manage these new regulations;
- Funding $5 million for The University of Vermont’s world-class research facility to further advance the study of data science, aimed at better understanding human wellness, and foster increased talent in the space;
- Donating, via the MassMutual Foundation, $15 million over 10 years to UMass Amherst, further strengthening the university’s renowned data science and cybersecurity research and education programs in Western Massachusetts; and,
- Providing a $2 million, four-year gift to Mount Holyoke College and Smith College – both established leaders in educating women – to hire five visiting faculty and support the development of a data science-focused curriculum.
“By focusing on our ongoing technological reinvention, including the talent that drives it, we are able to stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing world,” said Adam Fox, Head of Data, MassMutual. “We constantly look to what’s next and believe that the skilled pool of workers in Massachusetts can be a cornerstone of our internal data science program, helping best position us for the future.”
MassMutual formed its in-house data science group in 2013 to embed data-driven innovation and decision making into every aspect of the company’s strategy, while creating a data enterprise asset to be used for discovery, innovation and rapid dissemination of information. The team is now comprised of approximately 200 employees focused on projects that include instantaneous assessment of life insurance risk, fraud detection, policyowner retention, portfolio allocation strategies and more.
MassMutual also offers two training programs, the Data Science Development Program (DSDP) and the Data Engineering Development Program (DEDP), for those still in school in addition to recent graduates. These provide in-house training, graduate coursework, mentorship, and participation in high-impact projects alongside senior team members. This is not MassMutual’s first engagement with BU; the DEDP is comprised of engineering graduate students at the school. DEDP has welcomed 15 program managers since its inception in 2021. Similarly, the goal of the DSDP is to work as a MassMutual data scientist upon completion; since its founding the program has included 45 members who became employees.
“We are excited to bring Boston University into the fold,” said Fox. “As a powerhouse university in Boston, we see this as a mutually beneficial relationship that blends academic and industrial capabilities, ultimately enabling us all to develop new skills and uncover learnings. This continued cultivation allows MassMutual to better understand and improve how we serve our current and future customers, ultimately helping people secure their future and protect the ones they love.”