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New endowed professorship established by alumna trailblazer

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Over the last half century, the University’s computer science program has grown into one of the most reputable in the nation. Cynthia Hartgerink has watched it unfold and now is helping to ensure that growth continues.

The University offered no computer science degree when Hartgerink, who earned a mathematics degree in 1968, was enrolled. However, it was among a small number of institutions offering a selection of computer science-related electives.

“I took enough of them to know that’s exactly what I wanted to do in my career," she said. "Yet, once I graduated, I thought, ‘What exactly am I going to do with these wonderful computer science courses?’”

She found her answer at ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge. Hartgerink accepted a job as a computer systems engineer, and became a trailblazer at the same time.

“ExxonMobil was just beginning to hire women professionals in the computing department,” explained Hartgerink, who enjoyed a successful, 35-year career at the company.

Today, she’s helping students prepare to blaze their own trails in life. She recently established the Cynthia Baillio Hartgerink/BORSF Endowed Professorship in Computing and Informatics.

“I believe in the importance of giving back, and Exxon has a wonderful matching program for employees who contribute to their colleges.”

Ensuring computer science students receive top-notch instruction isn’t Hartgerink’s only contribution to tomorrow’s leaders. She’s also established the Vivian LeBeau Baillio Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Education in memory of her mother, a high school French teacher, and the William Kaffie Baillio Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Education, in memory of her father, a high school math teacher.