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President Ruud with Chancellor Randy Gardner

Careers in computer and information technology are expected to grow by 12 percent through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they make up 14 of the top 25 highest salaries — but there aren’t enough students majoring in this STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) fields to meet the demand.

On Thursday, Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner announced Marietta College will receive a $493,920 five-year grant.

Marietta is one of 35 Ohio colleges and universities to receive the new Choose Ohio First scholarship aimed at supporting undergraduate Computer Science and Information Systems students.

“This is an incredible moment — not only for Marietta College, but also for the state of Ohio’s computer science and technology field,” said Marietta College President, Dr. William N. Ruud, “because I know the impact that our graduates have in their professions. When we say, ‘Bring Forth a Pioneer’ to our students, they know it is a rallying cry to use their liberal arts education, their experiential education, and their creative and complex problem-solving skills to elevate their professions and their communities. This funding empowers us to seek out and support more Ohio students who are capable of carrying on Marietta’s timeless Pioneer tradition while helping to solve the state’s gap in qualified professionals within the technology field.”

Gardner said the award, which is expected to be available to students in Fall 2020, supports student recruitment and continuation for students’ first two academic years.

“Your proposal to provide computer science scholarships will improve Ohio’s workforce development capacity to innovate and grow our economy,” Gardner said.

Marietta’s Grants and Foundation Officer, Chantal Centofanti-Fields, applied for the grant over the summer to help recruit quality students from Ohio to Marietta’s new Computer Science major, as well as the existing Information Systems major. Assisting her on the grant were Drs. Matthew Williamson and Bob Van Camp, who both teach in Computer Science and Information Systems.

“Most businesses and organizations now have their own Information Technology department for managing computing hardware and software,” Centofanti-Fields said. “This is especially true in the state of Ohio. Even with these career opportunities, there are not enough college graduates with a computing degree to meet the growing job demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report in 2017 projecting that there will be over one million job openings for computer occupations, with nearly half of those jobs being brand new. Unfortunately, the number of college graduates in computer science, information systems, or related fields is far below the number of jobs available.”

She said the College has received COF funding for the past eight years for Marietta’s Petroleum Engineering, Geology and Physician Assistant Studies programs, and believes Marietta’s success in educating highly trained professionals in those fields helped make the College stand out during this most recent grant application process.

Miranda Collins, Director of Marietta’s Physician Assistant Program, said of the 120 COF scholarship recipients in her program, 85 are currently working in Ohio — proof that the initiative is working.