Multiple sections available Spring 2021. Learn tools including Tableau and Excel.
Multiple sections available Spring 2021. Learn tools including Tableau and Excel.
Thatcher has been awarded the Milton F. Stauffer Professorship at the Fox School. He joins MIS from the University of Alabama. However, Thatcher isn’t exactly an unfamiliar face on campus. Last year, he was a featured speaker at the Digitization 20 conference, and his informal relationship with the department dates back almost to its inception two decades ago.
With a background in history and social science, Thatcher’s research centers on individual decision-making, strategic alignment, and workforce issues. “My interest is in studying how technology changes the world we live in,” he says. For example, he’s researched how publicly available data on social media impacts hiring decisions.
He’s been published in journals including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and Journal of Applied Psychology among others and is regarded as one of the top active researchers in the field. Thatcher was recently named a TUM Ambassador by the Technical University of Munich, the highest academic honor for their faculty visitors and one of the highest academic honors in Germany.
An award-winning professor, Thatcher teaches courses in Management Information Systems and Strategic Management. His research interests cross over into the classroom. It goes beyond simply helping students understand how to manage their online presence. “All those war stories I have to resonate with. It lets them know this is a really interesting field. I love to talk to kids with an open mind,” he says.
Leila Hosseini joins as Assistant Professor after earning her Ph.D. in Management Science with a concentration in information systems from the University of Texas at Dallas. Hosseini’s research is highly practical for today’s business world. “The underlying theme of my research is to identify managerial and operational solutions to improve efficiency in technology markets, particularly cloud computing,” she says.
“In one of my papers, we used real-world data from a mobile advertising platform and showed that a firm could save about 25 percent of their cloud computing cost by using our proposed procurement policy,” Hosseini says. Her research analyzed Amazon Web Services’ complex pricing policies to show the advantage of renting multiple virtual machines to meet a firm’s cloud computing needs.
She’s enthusiastic to work with her new students this fall. “What I really like about teaching is helping the students,” she says. “I love sharing the knowledge I have with my students to help them get a job they’re going to like.”
Last year, the MIS department began previewing several redesigned courses, and this fall the new curriculum has been officially rolled out in full. The introductory course, Digital Systems, teaches basic programming skills to all business students, regardless of major. It’s a new approach that will give Fox students a competitive edge after graduation.
“There’s been a push that MBAs should know how to code, and we’re bringing that thinking to our undergradates,” says David Schuff, Professor and Chair of the Department of Management Information Systems. “Some other business school programs start with basic computer literacy, but we’re asking, ‘What’s the next generation of tools and skills?’”
Digital Systems provides an overview of how businesses use technology in today’s economy. The first two-thirds of the course help students get a grasp of the big ideas in an active learning environment. Through hands-on, in-class assignments, students practice applying the concepts they’re learning, including programming.
“It represents a shift from a project-management focus to a product-management focus,” says Schuff.
“In the past, coding assignments taught concepts without putting the business perspective on it,” says Sclarow. “Our approach uses an overarching narrative throughout the course to help students see how it relates to them and digital product management,” he says.
The prospect can be daunting for some students, especially outside MIS, but completing the project gives them not only important new skills, but also confidence. And for MIS students, this introduction prepares them expertly for what’s to come: more advanced courses on API-based software development, user experience, and cybersecurity.
“The new Digital Systems course is the latest example of how Temple’s MIS department prepares students for the workforce,” says Bruce Fadem, chair of the IT Advisory Board and retired VP and CIO of Wyeth.
“All business students are going to encounter digital systems, no matter what job they have,” says Sclarow. And Schuff emphasizes this point: “If you’re in accounting or finance, you might have a need to do process automation. In marketing, you might need to manipulate data to do analyses. Programming is becoming an essential tool to do these things yourself.”
Before COVID put online education in the spotlight, Assistant Professor of MIS Amy Lavin was already an expert on the topic. She finished her dissertation on the subject last year. It focused on the characteristics of success in an online classroom. “I researched which type of students might perform better in person versus virtually. I also looked into what characteristics of faculty members made for successful online class experiences,” she explains.
For Lavin, success in the classroom is not just theory. She recently won three teaching awards: Fox Honors Faculty Member of the Year, the Full-Time MBA Faculty of the Year, and the MS in Digital Innovation in Marketing (MS DIM) Faculty Member of the Year. These were “all complete surprises,” she insists. But anyone who knows her passion for teaching wasn’t surprised.
“To me, teaching is about building relationships and inviting students on a journey with you,” says Lavin, “I’m lucky because I am able to help students develop their understanding of how technology will enable transformation in their future careers.”
She adds, “When I look back at the great teachers that I had, they all engaged their students in the material, made it real, and helped me figure out how to make sense of it. I’m thrilled that I have been able in some way to do the same for our students.”
Lavin’s path to becoming a professor was informed by her industry experience. After earning her MBA at Fox, she spent several years at a software company implementing education systems in schools. Along the way, she learned a lot about technology. “I wondered how we can use technology to make things better,” she recalls.
She worked at Temple while earning her degrees, and a chance meeting with her old boss brought her back to her alma mater. “He mentioned an open position implementing systems for billing, registration, advancement–basically the business of higher ed,” Lavin says. She jumped at the chance to return to Temple.
Teaching soon followed. “I discovered I really love working with students when I had the opportunity to teach a section of the MIS introductory course,” says Lavin. After three years as an adjunct, she moved into a full-time role in MIS and became the academic director of the MS DIM program in 2015.
One of the many positive comments Professor Lavin receives is that she is the kind of professor that makes them want to be a better student. For her, this is the highest compliment. “Temple students make me want to be a better professor,” said Lavin, “So the feeling is mutual.”
As a solutions architect at Amazon Web Services, Ashneet Gujral (BBA ’11) draws on what he learned during his time at Temple MIS every day. “My job revolves around finding strategies for customers and partners. I focus on compliance and security frameworks,” he says. He can’t disclose many details because his projects are related to government agencies, but in general Gujral advises customers on building business solutions.
“I really wanted to work for Amazon,” he explains. He’s been with the tech giant since last September, but he’s worked with different kinds of clients, including those in the healthcare sector, in the past. “I’ve always worked with businesses whose main focus has been something other than technology. I wanted to challenge myself to go beyond what I had been doing,” he explains.
This ambition goes back to his time as a student. “At Temple, our professors always encouraged us to go beyond the curriculum. If we wanted to experiment or try something more advanced, we were encouraged,” Gujral says.
He recalls assisting professor David Schuff with a research project that dealt with social networks. “I built a tool for gathering data,” he says. The project gave him valuable experience in building something based on customer requirements. “That’s something you learn by doing, and this was really hands-on,” says Gujral.
He also cites professor Paul Weinberg as a mentor. “He was a key professor for me. He gave me a lot of guidance in my early days and taught me what to expect in industry beyond what we learned in schoolwork,” says Gujral.
One aspect of his education that he draws on regularly has little to do with technology. He says his time at MIS taught him something unexpected: People skills.
“When I was still a student, I learned how to participate in meetings in a meaningful way,” he says. It was as a member of the MIS student organization, the Association for Information Systems (Temple AIS), where he picked up the interpersonal skills that are a part of his success today.
“I learned how to resolve conflicts when you don’t agree. There are times when I’ve been in meetings when we’ve been talking about multiple tech solutions that all have pros and cons. Having MIS as my background, I understand the tech part, but I can also explain why one solution is better than another without offending anyone,” he says. “I learned how to recognize when my solution is not the best one.”
Cynthia Dumont, class of 2019, isn’t new to running her own business. She launched True Blue Branding, her digital marketing and branding agency, back in 2009. Even then, she did things differently than other agencies.
“From the very beginning, we were fully remote,” she recalls. “I cultivated a list of go-to programmers and designers all over the world so when clients asked, ‘Can you do X, Y, or Z?’ I can always say, ‘Yes,’” she says.
She wasn’t looking for a career change when she decided to pursue her MS in Digital Innovation in Marketing (MS DIM). “I believe you’re never too old to learn,” she says. “I had been working with analytics to shape marketing strategy since Facebook came out, and I wanted to formalize the things I’d learned on my own.”
While still in the program, Dumont began implementing what she learned. “My class in User Interface (UI) design helped me to show clients the importance of user interface design details in a more efficient way,” she says. “It has been a lifesaver and has helped me to be more efficient and creative while staying on budget,” she says. Ultimately, she hopes to use her MS degree to teach brand strategy and marketing at the college level.
Cliff Feiring, class of 2019, launched his new agency, Grass Roots Digital Marketing Studio, with Matt Beauchesne, another MS DIM grad. “We were launching in the middle of the pandemic, and we’re now working with our first clients,” he says.
The agency is a side hustle for Feiring, who is already an accomplished Talent Acquisition Specialist and Advisor for General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT). He’s used what he learned in the program both in building his new agency as well as in his day job.
When a new Vice President came on board at GDIT asking for fresh ideas to digitally transform the company, Feiring applied his knowledge to a comprehensive presentation that made it up through the ranks to the VP’s desk. When the pandemic lifts, he expects his strategies to be tested and hopefully rolled out company-wide.
Simultaneously, he’s focused on growing Grass Roots Digital Marketing Studio by attracting the right clients. “We’ve worked with different kinds of customers, including a nonprofit, a hotel-casino, and small businesses, but the common denominator is they are all extremely passionate about what they’re doing.”
A message from Temple MIS faculty and staff to the Class of 2020.
Three Temple AIS student teams took home awards at the annual Association for Information Systems Student Chapter Leadership competition in March. Even though the national conference was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the national competition was still hosted virtually.
Temple teams placed in the Scholastic Analytics Challenge, the Computational Society Case Study Challenge, and the Blockchain Hackathon Challenge, competing against Universities across the country including Florida International University, Utah State University, and the University of Michigan Dearborn.
Faculty advisor Steven Sclarow was pleased with the performance of the Temple chapter, “I am excited to see our students take home three awards this year, especially given this year’s unique challenges of competing virtually. However, our students were more than up to the challenge!””
The winning Temple teams are:
Congratulations to all the winners!
Two decades ago, Temple University founded a new department at the Fox School: Management Information Systems (MIS). The timing was prescient; the following two decades would bring seismic technological changes that put IT front and center in the business world.
For 20 years, the program’s innovative curriculum, research, and thought leadership have empowered graduates to thrive in the modern digital economy.
To mark the twentieth anniversary of MIS, an invitation-only Digitization 20 conference took place on November 7. Experts from academia and industry alike spoke about how digitization will change business, education, and society in the next 20 years.
“Prediction is hard. Still, the thought-provoking format of the Digitization 20 conference provided useful ideas on how to drive business forward to a better future,” says Sunil Misra, president of Emtec, Inc. and a member of the IT advisory board.
“It was great to have such illustrious colleagues and friends in academia and industry participate in the celebration,” says David Schuff, professor and department chair. “Breaking from tradition, we successfully tried a new format to bring the different voices together.”
Richard Watson, Regents Professor and J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Chair for Internet Strategy at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, spoke at Digitization 20. “I talked about the most important digital transformation, the transformation to a digital electricity grid system,” he says.
He was most excited about the abbreviated talks. “We heard so many different perspectives in a single day,” he says. “Quite a few people talked about AI and the potential impact on the job market, and I’m still thinking a lot about that.”
Jason Thatcher, professor and MIS endowed faculty fellow at the Culverhouse College of Business at the University of Alabama, says he’s never seen industry and academia mix like this in his career. “Normally, with a high-profile person from industry, they come in with a handler, give their talk, and then they leave. But we all sat together and had conversations throughout the day,” says Thatcher, who presented on the dangers of big data.
Bruce Fadem, chair of the IT advisory board and retired VP and CIO of Wyeth, also noted the unusual blend of industry and academia. “The speakers, participants, and ideas at the Digitization 20 conference were excellent. The conference further demonstrates the expertise of the MIS department in integrating academic and industry perspectives,” says Fadem.
John Shain, president of Automated Financial Systems and the chair of the Fox School’s board of visitors, echoes that sentiment. “It was wonderful to participate and speak at the 20th anniversary celebration conference of the MIS department. It is inspiring what the department has achieved in 20 years,” he says.
Professors Munir Mandviwalla, Detmar Straub, and Anthony Vance have been recognized as AIS Distinguished Members – Cum Laude by the Association for Information Systems, the premier professional association for information systems academics.
The AIS Distinguished Member program is one of the highest honors given by AIS, recognizing ongoing contributions to the success of the organization by its members. The Cum Laude designation recognizes an even higher level of achievement beyond Distinguished Member. Those receiving the Cum Laude designation have held a leadership role in the AIS community and had at least four publications in AIS or AIS-affiliated journals.
Professor Mandviwalla’s contributions include creating the AIS Leadership Excellence Award to recognize exceptional industry practitioners. He founded AIS Student Chapters in 2008, the home to IS students worldwide. Professor Mandviwalla also created the Information Systems Job Index, a biennial national survey of the Information Systems job market.
Professor Straub’s service to the field include serving as editor-in-chief of MIS Quarterly, widely recognized as the top journal in the field. He was a senior editor for Information Systems Research and the Journal of the AIS. Professor Straub served as VP of Publications for AIS, co-chaired the 2014 International Conference on Information Systems, and served as a program chair for the Americas Conference on Information Systems in 2006 and 2001.
Professor Vance is a leader in cybersecurity research in the area of insider threats and security-related behavior; he is regarded as an innovator in this area. He was a founding member and serves as editor of the IFIP Working Group in information systems security research. Professor Vance also co-curated the MISQ InfoSec resource on cybersecurity. He currently serves as an associate editor for MIS Quarterly.
Temple is only one of three schools that have three or more Distinguished Members and the only school with three members that received the Cum Laude designation.
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