Howard University announced the opening of a new west coast campus today at the GooglePlex in Mountain View, Calif. Spurred on by a mission to increase diversity in the tech industry, Vice President of Global Partnerships at Google and Howard alum, Bonita Stewart, expressed excited to share the news in a release that went out Thursday.
“Howard happens to be my alma mater, so I am especially proud to share that our formal recruiting from the university has evolved into a residency for Black computer science (CS) majors right here at the Googleplex. “Howard West” is now the centerpiece of Google’s effort to recruit more Black software engineers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)-and to make them feel right at home here in Mountain View,” says Stewart.
The program, which kicks off this summer, will allow rising juniors and seniors in Howard’s computer science program to attend Howard West for three months at a time. The campus will be a dedicated space at Google, and senior Google engineers and Howard faculty will serve as instructors.
Stewart stressed the important role HBCUs play in the computer science community. and how Google in Residence (GIR) programs and partnerships like Howard West, help to remove barriers African-Americans often face in the tech industry.
“HBCUs are a pillar in the computer science (CS) education community, producing more than a third of all Black CS graduates in the U.S. Google already has a strong partnership with Howard through Google in Residence (GIR), a program that embeds Google engineers as faculty at Howard and other HBCUs.”
Stewart continued, “Through GIR we’ve learned a lot about the hurdles Black students face in acquiring full-time work in the tech industry. The lack of exposure, access to mentors and role models are critical gaps that Howard West will solve. Left unchecked, systematic barriers lead to low engagement and enrollment in CS, low retention in CS programs and a lack of proximity and strong relationships between the Silicon Valley, HBCUs and the larger African American Community.”
Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick echoed Stewart’s sentiments and shared his hopes and vision for the new partnership program.
“Howard West will produce hundreds of industry-ready Black computer science graduates, future leaders with the power to transform the global technology space into a stronger, more accurate reflection of the world around us,” Frederick said. “We envisioned this program with bold outcomes in mind – to advance a strategy that leverages Howard’s high quality faculty and Google’s expertise, while also rallying the tech industry and other thought leaders around the importance of diversity in business and the communities they serve.”
Stewart hopes that the program will introduce students to a limitless world of possibilities in tech and continue to promote Howard’s legacy of providing its students with access to opportunity, in the same way it did for her when she was a student.
“The spirit of total possibility put me on my path to Harvard Business School and ultimately Google. Howard West will continue Howard’s tradition of providing unprecedented access to opportunity, only now with a presence in the heart of Silicon Valley.”