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May 28, 2015

Info sciences program earns award for affirmative action

Information sciences Dean Ronald Larsen and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher

Information sciences Dean Ronald Larsen and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher

Pitt’s School of Information Sciences iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3) is the recipient of the 2015 Chancellor’s Affirmative Action Award. The i3 program each year prepares undergraduate students from underrepresented populations for graduate education in information sciences.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher presented the award at the May 20 Senate Council meeting.

“This award is given to a department or program that has made a significant impact on the University’s efforts to expand diversity,” Gallagher told the council.

“In making its decision, the selection committee cited the i3 program as an important tool in ensuring that undergraduate students from underrepresented groups will have the exposure to experiences that encourage them to pursue graduate studies in fields that have historically lacked diversity.”

Each year 20-25 undergraduates from across the country are chosen as i3 scholars. “Program participants engage in an intensive year. It’s a yearlong program of research and leadership development that includes two summer institutes and a yearlong research project,” the chancellor said.

To date, 84 undergraduates have participated. Of that group, 22 have enrolled in graduate programs in information sciences or related fields and three of the scholars have received funding to pursue graduate studies here at Pitt, Gallagher said.

“The selection committee also praised the program as an example of the University’s commitment to creating partnerships with other prestigious institutions of higher education and with our foundation community. The i3 program has received significant support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, including a three-year renewal grant of $819,000 in 2013,” the chancellor said.

“The grant can be seen as an expression of the foundation’s belief in i3’s achievements to date and the work it will do in the future,” said Gallagher.

“That belief is underscored by the fact that applications to become i3 scholars have increased by 63 percent in the past five years and it is expected by the end of its fifth year more than 100 students will have benefited directly from participation in this program.”

The i3 program includes Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, Drexel, the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Penn State and Syracuse, Gallagher said.

“You would think that these schools would be fighting to host this program. But Pitt has successfully maintained its position as the host at the iSchool of the i3 program since it welcomed its first class of scholars in 2011,” he said, adding, “Participants come to see Pitt as their home upon completion of the program and serve as ambassadors for both the i3 program and this University. The fact that Pitt has sustained its position as the host school is especially impressive and was a critical factor in the selection committee’s recommendation that this program receive the 2015 award.”


Additional information on i3 is at

-Kimberly K. Barlow