BU Today: Inaugural Class of BU Computing & Data Sciences Prepare to Graduate

The inaugural CDS graduate pose on the main staircase at the Center for Computing & Data Sciences, April 24. From left, Daniel Skahill (CDS 23'), Samantha Chen (CDS 24'), Zining Ye (CDS 23'), Yile Wang (CDS 23'), and E.J. Wong(CDS 23'.

Cohort talks about why they chose the degree, what they hope to do with it

By: Joel Brown, Jacob Chang-Rascle (COM’22)

A big moment is coming up at the Center for Computing and Data Sciences on Sunday morning, maybe even bigger than the opening of the building itself. The Faculty of Computing and Data Sciences will graduate its first class in a convocation ceremony.

“We can take pride, but it’s not just graduating the students. It’s all that happened to get to this point,” says Azer Bestavros, associate provost for CDS.

“The countless hours of proposing this program, sending it through University Council, hiring the faculty, doing a lot of that under the cover of COVID,” says Bestavros, who is also William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor of Computer Science in the College of Arts & Sciences. “COVID bought us time. We were working undercover, I like to say.”

First opened to undergraduates in 2021, the program will award BS degrees in Data Science to four students; a fifth student finishing up in December will also walk. Three students minoring in Data Science will also be acknowledged, including Bestavros’s son, John Bestavros (CAS’23), who is graduating as a computer science major.

There are 190 students enrolled in CDS’s undergrad degree program and 10 in the CDS PhD program. The new MS in Data Science program is accepting applications for the fall. Bestavros said he expects 60 to 70 students to receive their BS next year, with an average of 120 to 150 in subsequent years.

Azer Bestavros, BU’s associate provost for Computing & Data Sciences, says, “We can take pride, but it’s not just graduating the students. It’s all that happened to get to this point.”

CDS was created to offer an interdisciplinary approach to preparing students with the analytical and computational skills necessary for success in a world increasingly shaped by computation, big data, and artificial intelligence.

But it’s clear that Bestavros may be proudest of 141 words that appear on the CDS website and will also be printed in Sunday’s program: “The Pledge of the Computing and Data Science Professional” promises that students will bring technology to bear on the challenges of our time and use their skills ethically for the good of all.

“They don’t have to recite it to get the degree, but we want them to know this is the expectation,” he says.

The CDS convocation takes place Sunday at 9 am in a function space on the 17th floor of CDS.

“I’ll probably be tearful to some extent,” admits Bestavros, “It all wasn’t easy, but it will be worth it once I see these kids get their degrees. Yeah. Beautiful.”

The convocation speaker is Fred Cibelli (CGS’97, CAS’99), principal, Financial Services Organization at Ernst & Young LLP, who works with financial firms in the New York area to modernize their technology platforms. He was previously a captain in the United States Air Force, where his responsibilities included developing global IT policies and security.

“Fred’s career actually speaks to the exact type of empowerment that data science gives you,” Bestavros says, adding with a smile, “He is already trying to recruit from our students.”

Meet the five students who’ll walk on Sunday (click on image below):

Daniel Skahill (CDS’23)
Yile Wang (CDS’23)
EJ Wong (CDS’23)






Zining Ye (CDS 23')
Samantha Chen (CDS’24)







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