Valerie Taylor

Increasing Diversity in Computing: A Focus on Retention

It is recognized that diversity of perspectives results in solutions that serve a broad base. This is critical to the area of computing, which has applications to science, humanities, as well as foundational work to advance the field of computing. Cultivating an environment that values and retains diversity, however, is not an easy task. This is especially the case in the “classroom”, whereby the students are in the space for only a few hours per week. Hence, in terms of retention, it is necessary to complement “classroom” activities to foster and retain diversity, with extra-curricular activities. The importance of retention of diverse students, which results in an increase in the graduation of diverse students, resulted in the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT) establishing the CMD-IT University Award for the Retention of Minorities and People with Disabilities in Computing. In this talk, I will discuss lessons learned from the award as well as other organizations and alliances focused on retention of diverse students and present some challenges to the CS Education community.


Valerie Taylor is the CEO and President of the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT), for which the vision is to contribute to the national need for an effective workforce in computing and IT through synergistic activities related to minorities and people with disabilities. The vision is achieved through the mission to ensure that under-represented groups are fully engaged in computing and information technologies, and to promote innovation that enriches, enhances, and enables these communities, such that more equitable and sustainable contributions are possible by all communities.

Valerie Taylor held multiple leadership roles at Texas A&M University, prior to joining Argonne. Most recently, she served as the senior associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering, a Regents Professor and the Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Prior to that, she served as head of Computer Science and Engineering from 2003 to 2011. Before she joined Texas A&M, Valerie Taylor was a faculty member in Northwestern University’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department for eleven years.

Valerie Taylor has authored or coauthored more than 100 papers on high performance computing. She is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and of the Association for Computing Machinery. She has received numerous awards for distinguished research and leadership, including the 2001 IEEE Harriet B. Rigas Award for significant contributions in engineering education; the 2002 Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni Award from the University of California at Berkeley; the 2002 A. Nico Habermann Award for increasing diversity in computing; and the 2005 Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science, and Diversifying Computing.

Valerie Taylor earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering and master’s degree in computer engineering from Purdue University in 1985 and 1986, respectively. She received her PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991.