Gini Receives President’s Award

Mari Gini, photo by Scott Streble
May 17, 2019

Professor Maria Gini has received the 2019 President’s Award for Outstanding Service. This award recognizes faculty and staff who have provided exceptional service to the University, its schools, colleges, departments and service units.

In addition to her international reputation for research in robotics and artificial intelligence and leadership within the department and service to the broader computing community, Gini was selected for her tireless effort to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities in the computing discipline. Her efforts have impacted individuals ranging from K-12 women and underrepresented student groups in the Twin Cities area, to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and researchers both nationally and internationally.

To help address diversity in the department, she led a redesign of our entry level courses to create multiple entry points to the major and show that computer science provides useful tools that impact society. These changes have significantly increased the number of women taking their first computer science class.

She also identified early on the need to increase the pipeline of women and underserved populations into our undergraduate programs, taking the initiative to obtain funds from a donor to create a new summer program for high school women to learn the foundations of programming. Gini has extended this program for girls with no programming experience and another program for underrepresented males.

Beyond the department and the university, Maria has expanded her efforts regionally by establishing MinneWIC, a celebration of women in computing in the Midwest.  Nationally, she has worked as a member of the CRA-W and co-directed the DREU program which provides summer research opportunities to undergraduate women and minorities to work at different universities with a woman or minority faculty mentor.  Internationally, Gini has established the programs and consortiums to reach young faculty, professionals, and graduate students to provide mentorship opportunities, grow a sense of community, increase women representation, and expand diversity within the AI field, not only in terms of race and gender, but also age and economic background.

“Professor Maria Gini has been the most selfless faculty to make her time available to students, the University, and our national and international community,” said Department Head Mats Heimdahl.

Please join us in recognizing Professor Maria Gini on this incredible award, and on her continued leadership in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering.

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