Business major receives name change to modernize degree


Angelica LaVito

Brian Kobiernicki, junior, thinks condensing his major’s name from Information Systems/Information Technology to Information Systems will help define the program. The name is just one change in a program that is constantly evolving.

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

The Information Systems/Information Technology major will shorten its name this fall to simply “Information Systems.”

The current name can cause confusion among prospective students and recruiters, and the new name is more commonly used, according to the proposal the Board of Trustees approved at its meeting last week.

Ramanath Subramanyam, associate professor of business administration and one of the proposal’s sponsors, said the major was referred to as computer information systems, information management or management information systems in the late ‘90s. Now, those titles are used to describe the role of computer support in companies.

“I think that the field has been maturing very well, and these old qualifiers, computer systems and (management information systems) support functions will all be disappearing,” he said. “That is one reason why we did need to be consistent with what the industry’s looking at and what the field is thinking.”

Of the 13 schools in the Big Ten, five offer majors in “information systems.” The other eight offer similar programs with varying names, such as Iowa’s Business Analytics and Information Systems and Rutgers’ Business Analytics and Information Technology majors.

Brian Kobiernicki, a junior and president of the Association For Information Systems, called the current name a “mouthful.” He thinks shortening it will help give students a unified identity, especially since the current major’s name is different from his organization’s.

But, in his experience, the current name has never caused confusion for a potential employer. People interviewing for information systems positions have an idea of the majors, he said, especially if they are recruiting at the University.

Dropping half the major’s name reflects greater changes in the information systems industry. To prepare to enter the field, students learn how they can use technology to help business. The systems and strategies available change as more are created.

Michael Shaw, professor of business administration and Leonard C. and Mary Lou Hoeft Chair of Information Systems, said communication with companies, workshops and professor’s’ own research are vital to professors keeping their curriculum current as technology evolves.

Shaw attended Deloitte University, a learning retreat, last year. He stays in touch with major firms in industries such as accounting, manufacturing and financial service.

“That’s a very good way for a land grant university to reach out to the businesses, especially for our college,” he said. “We have to know what they are practicing, and that will streamline for our graduates to be ready for the job market. And that will also help keep our research ideas fresh.”

Kobiernicki and the Association For Information Systems try to facilitate even more discussions with businesses. This year alone Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler, Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers – three of the four major auditing accounting firms – sponsored the organization.

Representatives from other companies have come to talk to students about internship and job opportunities. They also tell students about their own careers and how students can prepare for the work field.

“So basically, if we see they’re doing these kinds of things in the work day, we can choose classes to prepare for those or self teach ourselves Coursera or whatever online,” Kobiernicki said.

Information systems students and employees will continue to grapple with changes as technology evolves. Starting with adopting a new name.

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