UVA Receives US$120M for Data Science

The new “school without walls” will embed presences in departments on campus to encourage multidisciplinary collaboration.

In January, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville announced plans to establish a School of Data Science. UVA joins schools such as MIT and the University of California that also recently announced intentions to open new divisions devoted to data science.

The Charlottesville-based Quantitative Foundation has donated US$120 million—the largest private gift in UVA’s history—to fund the school’s formation. The donation will support doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships, an endowed fund for visiting scholars, and a new building for the school.

The School of Data Science will deliver doctoral, undergraduate, and certificate programs to meet market demand for data science professionals. Rather than house separate departments, the school will be organized around centers focused on the themes of data acquisition; engineering; analytics; visualization and dissemination; and ethics, policy, and law.

The organizational structure is meant to reflect a “school without walls,” where each center will have satellites embedded in other schools on campus. This structure is meant to encourage multidisciplinary collaboration across the university and with the private sector. Phil Bourne, director of UVA’s Data Science Institute since 2017, will serve as the school’s acting dean.