MassMutual gifts Boston University Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences additional $3 million to support responsible data usage research

September 21st, 2022

Funds will supplement company’s previous $1 million donation to university’s data science program to bolster faculty and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts

SPRINGFIELD and BOSTON, Mass., September 21, 2022 – Expanding on its $1 million gift to the Boston University (BU) Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences (CDS) made in August of 2021, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) today announced it will provide the program $3 million of additional funding, showcasing the company’s ongoing support of collegiate-level data science programs throughout New England.

This funding, designated separately from MassMutual’s previous gift that focused on professorships, long-term programming, and student externships, will be distributed over five years and dedicated to the responsible use of data and the advancement of transparency, accountability, and trust in data-driven artificial intelligence solutions. Deepening its relationship with BU, MassMutual will collaborate with students and faculty on research in areas of mutual interest. This will include projects in the MassMutual Co-Lab under the CDS Hub for Civic Tech Impact which convenes programs on the design, analysis, and development of computing and data science methods and systems within the context of legal, societal, economic, and public policy frameworks. MassMutual and BU will together examine development of the tools, software, and algorithms that are increasingly critical for a healthy civic society.

MassMutual aims to advance the field of data science across the region and believes in knowledge sharing with startups, academia, industry peers, and more to best understand how technology can be used to create custom, streamlined products and services that serve customers and policyowners. The partnership with BU is a prime example of this collaboration, creating access to new research and tools as well as a pool of leading talent.

Over the past seven years, MassMutual has made similar commitments including:

  • Sponsored Day of AI in May 2022, enabling high school students across the country to engage in a series of free, hands-on activities – taught by their current educators, regardless of technological experience – designed to introduce them to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its role in their daily lives.
  • Co-founded 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;
  • Funded $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;
  • Donated $15 million over 10 years to UMass Amherst via the MassMutual Foundation, further strengthening the university’s renowned data science and cybersecurity research and education programs in Western Massachusetts; and,
  • Provided a $1 million grant to Smith College in 2019 to be disbursed over six years, establishing two tenure track faculty positions in Statistical and Data Sciences as part of the Women in Data Sciences partnership.

“MassMutual continuously evolves our digital offerings and innovates new products and services, so we need to best understand how to use data in a responsible manner that goes beyond complying with applicable laws and ensures principles-based data design,” said Adam Fox, MassMutual’s Head of Data. “We are committed to prioritizing the rights, privacy, and ownership of our customers and policyowners. The students and faculty at Boston University’s CDS share these common goals of transparency, fairness, and respect with data usage.”

“This deepened engagement shows the value of Boston University’s approach to computing and data sciences for students, faculty and organizations,” said Azer Bestavros, Associate Provost for Computing and Data Sciences. “We are focused on democratizing access to data-driven innovation in computing and AI, and to developing these technologies responsibly with public interest in mind.”

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, development, and rapid dissemination of information. The team is now comprised of approximately 200 employees focused on projects that include accelerated assessment of life insurance risk, fraud detection, policyowner retention, portfolio allocation strategies and more.

MassMutual is also engaged with Boston University for its Data Engineering Development Program (DEDP), which is comprised of engineering graduate students at the school. MassMutual hopes to further tap the strong regional collegiate community as a source for talent recruitment as it expands the internal data science program. The DEDP has led to 15 program managers joining MassMutual since it was created in 2021.

About MassMutual
MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. Founded in 1851, the company has been continually guided by one consistent purpose: we help people secure their future and protect the ones they love. With a focus on delivering long-term value, MassMutual offers a wide range of protection, accumulation, wealth management and retirement products and services. For more information, visit massmutual.com.