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10-Year, $15 Million Grant from MassMutual Foundation to Enrich CICS Data Science and Cybersecurity Initiatives

The MassMutual Foundation, Inc.--a dedicated corporate foundation established by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual)--today announced it is providing the University of Massachusetts Amherst $15 million over 10 years to further strengthen its world-class data science and cybersecurity research and education programs in Western Massachusetts.

The grant, a signature contribution of the MassMutual Foundation--and one of the largest donations in UMass Amherst history--was outlined by Nick Fyntrilakis, MassMutual's Vice President of Community Responsibility and President of the MassMutual Foundation, at a briefing at the UMass Center at Springfield, located in Tower Square, which will house the new cybersecurity initiative.  

"The implementation of new technologies across all industries is occurring at an extremely rapid pace, driving demand for scientists skilled in analyzing data and protecting digital information," said Fyntrilakis. "The MassMutual Foundation is making this gift to take these leading data science and cybersecurity research centers to the next level, and to ensure that both the Pioneer Valley and the commonwealth will be at the forefront of these emerging areas and a top destination for these important disciplines."

A growing and exciting new facet of MassMutual's corporate responsibility approach, the MassMutual Foundation is a dedicated corporate foundation created by MassMutual to manage eligible charitable contributions. 

The MassMutual Foundation's long term goal is to provide a total of $100 million through targeted charitable investments over the next five years. Fyntrilakis added that over the past 10 years, MassMutual has given back nearly $80 million to the communities where the company's employees and agents live and work.

"Throughout our 165-year history, MassMutual has always made people a priority, and today that commitment to our policyowners, customers and the communities we serve continues with the creation of our Foundation," said Fyntrilakis. "By giving back to our communities and providing economic opportunity, we are indeed strengthening the vitality of the region."

In announcing the new UMass initiative, Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said, "We are deeply grateful for this extraordinary investment by the MassMutual Foundation. Today's announcement represents a private-public collaboration that will uniquely benefit the commonwealth. With this support, our researchers will expand our knowledge of data science and its uses and develop new cybersecurity systems to protect information networks. Our internationally recognized faculty also will help prepare the next generation of leading computer scientists, creating new knowledge and educating a growing workforce to create a range of new economic opportunities."

The grant to UMass Amherst, the commonwealth's flagship campus, will provide substantial new resources to two of the university's outstanding areas of academic and research excellence--both affiliated with the College of Information and Computer Sciences.

  • $12 million to support the Center for Data Science, which will enhance UMass Amherst's standing as a leading destination for data science and related research. Funds will be invested to hire additional faculty, and support the Center's goals to double the number of data science courses and triple the size of the master's program in computer science. Students will engage with--and learn from--leading educators in data analytics. The center also focuses on creating new technology to manage and gain insight from big data while also educating tomorrow's data scientists.
  • $3 million to support new research and education activities at the university's Cybersecurity Institute. The gift will establish the Institute's new Trust Assurance Cybersecurity certificate offered at the MassMutual Foundation/UMass Springfield Center for Training in Cybersecurity. The program will provide a significant economic development benefit to downtown Springfield, drawing professionals from the Springfield-Hartford, Conn., area as well as undergraduate students. The gift also supports new faculty hires by UMass Amherst to develop and teach the classes.

In attendance at the event were State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and UMass President Marty Meehan.

"Massachusetts is poised to build on our burgeoning cyber security sector to become the indisputable leader in the country. The support of the MassMutual Foundation toward this effort at UMass-Amherst and the satellite center here in Springfield will increase our technological edge and produce the graduates ready to enter the workforce and build on our success," said Rosenberg. "This is an outstanding example of a public private partnership that benefits both the industry and our public higher education institutions."  

DeLeo said, "Over the past few years the House has focused on data analytics because we believe that the industry will define the commonwealth's future economic success. We also recognize that public-private partnerships foster fresh perspectives that are beneficial to both companies and to an emerging field. That's why I'm so pleased that the MassMutual Foundation and UMass Amherst are joining efforts to prepare the innovators of tomorrow and position local businesses to be competitive in a dynamic economy."

Meehan thanked the MassMutual Foundation for its generosity and commitment and added, "Both data science and cybersecurity are vital and expanding fields with a tremendous demand for talent. This investment will continue to advance UMass Amherst's cutting edge research in these fields and strengthen the region's role as an education hub that will help train the future workforce that the commonwealth's knowledge-based economy relies upon."

In addition to the collaboration with UMass Amherst, the MassMutual Foundation is focused on expanding its FutureSmartSM program, which challenges young leaders to take steps toward both a successful career and financial wellness for themselves, their families and their communities. To date, the program has reached more than 250,000 middle and high school students across the country. Its goal is to reach two million students by 2020.

The MassMutual Foundation will also fund such programs as Mutual ImpactSM, MassMutual's employee giving program, and grants focused on economic development, academic achievement and workforce development and financial education. To learn more about the MassMutual Foundation please visit www.massmutual.com/responsibility

(Source: UMass Amherst News & Media Relations)