Temple AIS, the MIS Student Professional Organization, was selected as a Distinguished Student Chapter for 2021. The Distinguished Student Chapter Award is the second-highest honor given to an AIS student chapter. It is given to chapters “that have excelled in most of the areas of emphasis: professional development, membership, careers in IS, community service, fundraising, and communications..”
Temple AIS was recognized at the virtual 2022 AIS Student Chapter Leadership Conference on April 9, 2022.
This means back-to-back wins for Temple AIS! Last year Temple AIS won the Student Chapter of the Year for 2020, the highest honor awarded to an AIS Student Chapter. Learn more about the awards and past winners.
Celebrating 20 years of MIS and the Institute for Business and Information Technology
Professor Munir Mandviwalla has been awarded the Stauffer Award for Distinguished Faculty Service for 2021-2022. The award is administered by the Temple University Alumni Association and “recognizes outstanding faculty service and seeks out those faculty members whose service extends beyond the classroom and University community.”
Specifically, the selection committee cited professor Mandviwalla’s “numerous contributions to the Management Information Systems Department and the Institute for Business and Information Technology, an extraordinary role model for industry and academic engagement.”
“It is impossible to overstate the service contributions Dr. Mandviwalla has made to the Fox School, Temple University, and the field of management information systems,” said professor David Schuff, Chair of the MIS Department, “He is an institution-builder and a transformative leader. His more than 25 years of outstanding leadership is an example of how faculty should serve their institution and its students.”
Register by April 6. Join us on April 14.
As we continue the return to normal, I am proud to feature the outstanding accomplishments of our faculty, staff, and students. I am also excited to share that we will be finishing the celebration of the Temple MIS Department’s 20th anniversary that began in Fall 2019. On April 14, the Institute for Business and Information Technology and the MIS Department will host the 20th Annual Information Technology Awards.
We begin by highlighting several significant achievements of our faculty. First, Temple MIS faculty were among the most prolific in the world once again in 2021, according to the Association for Information Systems’ List of High-Quality Journals. Professors Jason Thatcher, Min-Seok Pang, and Detmar Straub are featured individually on that list. This accomplishment reflects the strong, intellectually diverse group we have built at Temple.
Second, two of our faculty have been recognized as leaders in our field by the Association for Information Systems (AIS). Professor Taha Havakhor recently received the AIS Early Career Award and professor Munir Mandviwalla received the AIS Technology Challenge Award.
We also profile the research of professor Leila Hosseini, who studies how organizations can control their costs in cloud and mobile advertising.
Our students are also doing great things. Read about how our student-led Optimize Consulting Group provides IT consulting services to local non-profits. Learn how our students are helping the community while learning valuable real-world skills.
I am also delighted to share stories of our excellent alumni. Learn how Noah Mercado (BBA ’16) used the foundation he received while at Temple to succeed in his current role as Cloud Solutions Architect at Google. Also, discover how Czarina Agravante (BBA ’13) uses her Temple MIS education to design digital customer experiences at Comcast. We also profile two recent Master of Information Technology Auditing and Cyber Security alumni, Megan Hall (MS ’21) and Vanessa Marin (MS ’21). Read about how the program helped both advance their careers. Finally, we are proud of our first Ph.D. graduate John D’Arcy (Ph.D. ’05), who was recently appointed senior editor for MIS Quarterly, the top journal in the field of MIS.
I look forward to seeing everyone at this year’s IT Awards in April as we celebrate our success, once again and at long last, in person!
Temple MIS faculty continued to be the among most prolific in the world in 2021 according to the Association for Information Systems’ List of High-Quality Journals, specifically MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, the Journal of Management Information Systems, and the Journal of the Association for Information Systems.
Temple faculty published in those four journals 19 times in 2021. Two Temple MIS faculty were featured in the list: Jason Thatcher, Milton F. Stauffer Professor, was #2 in the world and Min-Seok Pang, Associate Professor and Milton F. Stauffer Research Fellow, was #14 in the world.
“I’m excited that once again Temple University tops this list,” says MIS chair David Schuff. “It reflects the excellent research culture we’ve built within the MIS Department and throughout the Fox School of Business,” he says.
Temple was also the most frequently published institution in those journals during the last three years, with 47 publications from 2019 to 2021. During that time, in addition to Thatcher and Pang, professor Detmar Straub also appears on the list.
Pang, who studies strategic IT management in the public sector, remarked on the strength and intellectual diversity of the group, “It’s great to be part of a team that has accomplished so much. We have varied research interests and that creates many opportunities for collaboration.”
“I appreciate being in an environment that values and supports research. We celebrate each other’s achievements.,” says Thatcher, who studies workforce issues related to technology use in organizations and is the MIS Ph.D. concentration adviser, “We have a strong set of faculty and top-flight doctoral students.”
Noah Mercado (BBA ‘16) describes his Customer Engineer position at Google as a Cloud Solutions Architect who specializes in application modernization. “I help customers solve business problems, by building cloud-native applications on top of Google cloud,” says Mercado.
Mercado’s role is client-facing and requires strong technical skills. “We focus on helping our customers build and modernize their applications to be cloud-native, leveraging tools such as Kubernetes, serverless cloud functions, and containers, while adopting more modern, event-driven architectures,” says Mercado.
Mercado developed his skills at companies like Cigna before landing at Google last year, but he also credits Temple with giving him a strong foundation. “What I really liked about the MIS program was the wide range of courses that helped me develop my technical chops, as well as understand the business value technology can unlock,” says Mercado.
While at Temple, Mercado developed essential job skills outside of class, too. “I was the VP of IT for AIS, and I ran a technical development program for students,” says Mercado. “That gave me some really good exposure to public speaking, teaching, and coaching. And that’s definitely something I use when I work with clients today as well.”
As a Senior Manager, Digital Experiences at Comcast, Czarina Agravante (BBA ‘13) spends a lot of her time defining and solving problems. “I help design the customer experiences on our digital channels,” says Agravante. “So I work with our business stakeholders to understand what the problem is. And then I go and work with our engineering teams to understand how to build a solution.”
Agravante says her typical day at Comcast echoes her coursework at Temple. “The way that our classes were structured was very focused on real-life problems,” she says. “We would have a semester-long project, and go through our discovery phase, and then design a product and come up with the solution.”
After starting out at a small financial services firm as a front-end web developer, Agravante later moved into telecommunications, including a stint at EY, before joining the Comcast team in 2021. Today she focuses primarily on the apps and chatbots that support Comcast’s video and internet service customers.
Agravante said she prefers to “learn by doing” in school and at work. “Temple did a really good job of helping us to really do it live, instead of just giving us a textbook,” she says.
Megan Hall (MS ‘21) had a lightbulb moment about five years ago when she was Director of Internal Audit at Simmons Bank in Arkansas. “I started to see how everything we do in banking is dependent on technology,” says Hall, who had also worked as a National Bank Examiner. “I was extremely familiar with banking, but I felt like I needed a better understanding of the technology and the risks around it.”
That’s when Hall received an email about the Temple master’s degree in information technology auditing and cyber security. “Immediately I was like, ‘this is exactly what I want to do,’” says Hall.
Hall was in excellent company at Temple as she completed her masters while working full-time. “Most of our professors were working day jobs, too,” she said. “It was a really good balance of textbook education and real-world experience. That was probably the most valuable thing—the breadth and depth of knowledge that different instructors had,” said Hall.
When she was about a year into the MS program, Hall’s decision paid off with a promising job offer from First National Bank of Paragould, overseeing cybersecurity, day-to-day tech support, and automation and innovation. “They saw that I was working on my degree, and they found that to be very valuable,” says Hall. “So I was able to go from the director level to CIO because of my degree.”
After Vanessa Marin (MS ‘21) earned her undergraduate degree in MIS at Temple, she searched for a program that would get her a management-level position. After speaking with several professors in the program, she opted for the full-time, 11-month master’s degree in information technology auditing and cyber security.
Marin’s instincts proved correct. “Before the end of my masters, I had already acquired a Cyber Assurance Advisor position with Comcast,” says Marin. There she conducts assessments of the company’s security landscape. “We essentially touch every single business unit at Comcast, so it’s wonderful exposure across the organization.”
Marin found both the coursework and the relationships at Temple to be extremely valuable. “The material is 100% relevant. It was all just very well laid out and organized,” says Marin. “And I was able to reach out to some of my professors when I was considering job offers to get advice on not just salary, but career development.”
Most nonprofits don’t have the budget to hire in-house technology specialists, or the budget to hire pricey consultants. A group of Temple MIS students is stepping up to fill this need—streamlining processes for local organizations while gaining invaluable real-world experience.
Founded in fall 2019, Optimize Consulting Group (OCG) is under the umbrella of Temple Association for Information Systems (AIS). Run by Connor McShane, Ariella Izbinsky, and Brianna Anderson, the team kicked off with its first pro bono client in spring 2020. Since then, it’s helped several Philadelphia area nonprofits in areas like UX redesign, Google Analytics integration, and data analysis.
Most OCG projects have a multifaceted approach, intended to make each nonprofit run better as a whole to meet its goals. OCG’s mission prioritizes client relationships and finding custom solutions to the most pressing problems.
Students typically partner with clients in teams, on a 5-month semester timeline. “This semester, we happen to have two UX redesign projects,” says McShane, OCG’s principal. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity for our two student teams to collaborate and assist each other.”
Like many MIS professionals across industries, the students have found scope creep to be a challenge. “More than anything, we want to help our clients with whatever they desire, but in order to stay on track we have to stay within the scope of the project,” says McShane.
Having the privilege to help clients make a bigger impact is incredibly rewarding for the team. “Being a part of a group that helps amazing causes in our community is the best part,” says McShane. For example, the OCG website redesign for The Monkey & The Elephant, an organization that supports young adults transitioning out of foster care in Philadelphia, focused on increasing revenue. The new design highlighted catering services and garden space rental, and streamlined access to the group’s online store.
OCG clients appreciate the students’ hard work. Amy Cohen partnered with OCG in 2020 to revamp the donor management system for Friends of Sueños, her Wynnewood-based nonprofit, “I have already recommended OCG to a nonprofit whose board I recently joined,” says Cohen. “The knowledge, professionalism, and enthusiasm of the OCG team was truly impressive.”
OCG’s goals include extending its reach so that all area nonprofits are aware of its services. “The future of OCG is extremely bright,” says McShane. “Not only are we continually developing our processes to best serve the client, but we are shaping students’ professional development. I feel confident that our team could solve any problem that a nonprofit organization might bring to us.”