Six updates wrap up 2016

As the end of the first semester wraps up, students and faculty are getting ready for the holiday break. But first, we’re reporting the latest happenings in the Department of Information Systems — from conferences and holiday books to grants and goodbyes.

As the end of the first semester wraps up, students and faculty are getting ready for the holiday break. But first, we’re reporting the latest happenings in the Department of Information Systems — from conferences and holiday books to grants and goodbyes.

IS to host Arizona’s leaders in IT security, and data and analytics

Today, Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) have to do more than secure their organizations. The role of CISO continues to evolve to include being technically adept and business aware along with security savvy. That’s why the Department of Information Systems is hosting the upcoming Phoenix CISO Executive Summit produced by the conference firm Evanta (a CEB company) on November 30, 2016. The one-day, private event from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. brings together our region’s IT, security, and data and analytics leaders to connect, collaborate, and share valuable knowledge.

Senior lecturer steps outside classroom to pen best-selling historical novels

Reminiscing about the stories his family told about life in America during World War II, W. P. Carey senior lecturer Alan Simon wrote a series of books about a hard-working family coming to grips with the new war and preparing to send their sons to battle.

first-christmas-of-16896e3“The First Christmas of the War” is set during the holiday season of 1941, only weeks after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. “It’s one of the most troubling holiday seasons in American history,” Simon said. The story follows a working-class Pittsburgh family, the Colemans, in the early days of the new war — a war that was going very badly in December 1941, he explained.

Simon, who is also the faculty director of the on-campus and online Master of Science in Information Management programs at the W. P. Carey School of Business, followed up that novel with “Thanksgiving 1942,” which is set 11 months during the first Thanksgiving of the war. It follows the Coleman Family as their two sons come home for holiday furlough from Army Air Forces flight training at Thunderbird Field in Phoenix, Arizona.

The third book in the series, “The First Christmas After the War,” published in 2015, is set during December 1945, shortly after the end of World War II as the soldiers are coming home and the Coleman family is reunited.

The three titles are the first in a series of seven holiday books taking the Coleman family from 1941 to the late 1970s. The fourth novel, “The First Winter of the New War,” is set during November and December 1950, during the Korean War and is in progress.

While the novels are fiction, Simon wove in a bit of real life. As a kid, he worked at his great-grandfather’s produce business in Pittsburgh, which dated back to the 1920s to 1950s. Simon included some of those memories in the novels. He also gave his three uncles, who served in WWII, cameos in the books.

The inspiration for the novels came to Simon during the holidays of 2001, shortly after the attacks on September 11. “I thought what was shaping up to be a somber 2001 holiday season may have compared to the holidays in 1941,” he said.

Simon has written several other fiction and nonfiction business and technology books. His novel, “Gettysburg, 1913: The Complete Novel of the Great Reunion,” was a USA Today bestseller.

Oil and gas giant donates to W. P. Carey

exxonmobil-grant-check-photo-20165-copy
From left: Brian Rait from ExxonMobil, Sandeep Gupta from W. P. Carey, Raghu Santanam from W. P. Carey, and Joe Killalea from ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil Corporation donated $9,000 to the W. P. Carey Supply Chain Management) and
Information Systems departments as part of the company’s program to give $1.6 million to 79 colleges and universities in 2016.

Thanks to the donation, the departments will fund scholarships, field trips, visiting speakers, equipment purchases, student and faculty travel, education-related events, and other educational projects.

Exxon Mobil awards these grants to institutions that offer degrees that their employees typically earn. The oil and gas giant bases the amount of its donation on several factors, one of which is the number of employees who graduated from the particular university.

This grant program is one of many company efforts to support education, specifically math and science. ExxonMobil supports initiatives that encourage students to take an interest in math and science careers, motivate students to learn and perform well in those fields, and support the development of effective teachers in math and science.

Grant brings African students to ASU

The MasterCard Foundation has awarded the university with a sizeable grant to bring students from Kenya to ASU to study and receive their master’s degree in one of four degree programs — two in business and two in engineering. The $22 million grant will bring six groups of students for a 3-1-1 program, which means students who have completed the first three years of their undergraduate degree can attend ASU to complete their fourth year. They’ll receive their undergraduate degree from their home school and then they’ll enter into an accelerated master’s program at ASU to complete within a year.

The MasterCard Foundation grant will fully fund six groups of students over a six-year period, beginning in 2017. “It’s building our international presence by creating a firm process over the years,” said Ajay Vinze, the Earl and Gladys Davis Distinguished Professor in the W. P. Carey Department of Information Systems.

If the students perform well — at a B level or higher — they can enter the accelerated master’s program without taking a standardized test, Vinze said.

During their first year here, students will be introduced to the culture of our American university, as well as learn how to engage academically and how to conduct themselves in the classroom, Vinze said. “International students are academically prepared, but they are not academically prepared to perform their best at a U.S. institution,” he said.

Partnering with the Kenyan university is an opportunity to open up Africa as a continent for ASU to make a greater presence, Vinze said. Another part of the grant allows faculty members from the Kenyan university and ASU to visit each other’s campuses to learn about their respective programs. “It’s a very well laid out way to engage.”

Earl and Gladys Davis Distinguished Professor of Marketing takes position as dean in Missouri

vinze-ajayAfter an 18-year career at the W. P. Carey School of Business, Ajay Vinze has been appointed as the new dean of the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business at the University of Missouri.

Vinze wore three hats during his time at the W. P. Carey School of Business: The Earl and Gladys Davis Distinguished Professor, the associate dean of international programs, and the associate vice provost for graduate education. His new appointment begins January 1.

“ASU has been quite a journey,” Vinze said. “We were a whole lot smaller than we are now. it’s been fun to be a part of the process of growth.”

Vinze has had an active role in the global front on behalf of ASU and W. P. Carey and has brought international opportunities to faculty and staff. “What I think it reflects is ASU and the W. P. Carey school making a much broader footprint globally,” he said.

Vinze, who was born in India and grew up in the Philippines, will work to bring an international presence to the University of Missouri as well.

About one-third smaller than W. P. Carey, the business school at the University of Missouri is vibrant, Vinze said. Although Vinze is a faculty member for the Department of Information Systems, he will be joining a business school with no information systems department. He said information systems is a discipline with no boundaries and that it complements any field. “What I’m interested in is how we can be boundary spanners over there,” he said.

Student celebrates women in technology at Grace Hopper Conference

Every year, technology companies worldwide come together to honor the achievements and encourage the aspirations of women in IT at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Barrett Honors College student Sophia Butler attended the conference in October after applying through the Department of Information Systems Club (DISC) to receive a ticket provided by USAA.

“The conference created an environment where I felt not only welcome but encouraged to be who I truly am and ask questions that I might be afraid to ask in the classroom,” said Butler, who is the vice president of Women in Information Technology for DISC. “Simultaneously, I learned from very experienced women and men who spoke about the high-level technical issues they face in their work and how they fix them.”

Butler also came away from the conference knowing how to fit her resume to various technology jobs, as well as how it’s interpreted differently by IT professionals as opposed to human resources professionals. “Many professional data analysts spoke at the conference about statistical differences between women and men in the IT industry, which often negatively affect women, and theories of causation,” said Butler, who is also a business data analytics major. “Speakers also gave tips on how upper management, women, and their male allies can combat these roadblocks for women in IT.”

Though Butler can benefit from the conference as she pursues her degree, she said it would help her far into the future. “I spoke with my club members and friends about some of the overarching issues of lack of diversity in IT and what steps we can take to end them,” she said.

ASU faculty and students are striving to make the field more welcoming. DISC is planning events to help support minorities pursuing technical studies at ASU. “Minorities who choose to pursue careers in technology often feel alone and isolated,” Butler said. “We are not alone.”