College of Business is nation

College of Business is nation’s first Sun Center of Excellence business school

The University of St. Thomas College of Business announced Wednesday, July 27, that it is the first business school in the nation to be designated as a Sun Center of Excellence (COE), a worldwide program of Sun Microsystems Inc. that intensifies the use of technology in targeted industry sectors to yield innovation and enterprise.

The COE will be located in the new Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, opening this fall in a $22 million building on St. Thomas’ downtown Minneapolis campus.

The partnership will aid in the development of lucrative new Sun forecasting, modeling and identity-management tools for the business world and augment technological teaching options for business schools worldwide.

Although 75 Sun COEs exist worldwide, St. Thomas’ College of Business makes for the first COE in a university business school.

Sun Microsystems and St. Thomas brought together a collaborative partnership, including Cisco Systems, to create what is now known as the Sun Center of Excellence for Entrepreneurial Application of Innovative Information Technologies at the University of St. Thomas College of Business Schulze School of Entrepreneurship.

A Sun Ray ultra-thin client environment including Sun Java Enterprise System, Sun Fire UltraSPARC processor-based servers, Sun StorEDGE array and Sun Blade workstations will be brought into the building as the first phase of the program, including technical support from Sun.

The program will enable access to a heightened level of partnership with the COE’s third-party collaborators as well as other academic institutions.

Sun Ray ultra-thin clients provide customers with an interoperable desktop computing solution that reduces the maintenance, upgrade, and operational costs often associated with most "fat" PC client environments. The stateless nature of Sun Ray ultra-thin clients allows for complete session mobility, improved workflow, and helps ensure the protection of data. Additional information about Sun Ray thin clients can be found at

“This is a significant development for the region’s entrepreneurship community, retail business community, technology community and the world of higher education in business,” said Dr. Christopher Puto, dean of the College of Business. “This is an ambitious and pioneering business technology endeavor, and we’re proud to be entrusted by Sun to host the nation’s first COE business school. They understand that business schools help set the agenda for global competition, sharpening the focus on innovation in business through technology.”

“St. Thomas is a smart choice as a Sun COE because they are unusually enterprising when compared to many other business schools,” said Kim Jones, vice president, Global Education and Research at Sun Microsystems. “One proof point of the school’s entrepreneurial fervor was their insistence — and foresight — in making St. Thomas’ infrastructure an 'open source' platform as much as possible, which allows true innovation to flourish well into the future.”

Best Buy Founder and Chairman Richard Schulze, namesake of the School of Entrepreneurship, helped energize an already strong entrepreneurial atmosphere at St. Thomas with his $50 million contribution to the University of St. Thomas in 2000, including $22 million for the School of Entrepreneurship building to be known as Schulze Hall.

Puto was previously dean at Georgetown University, and is nationally known as an “educational entrepreneur,” using computer-driven business simulation as the backbone of St. Thomas’ full-time MBA curriculum.

The Sun Center of Excellence for Integrating Information Technology and Business at the University of St. Thomas College of Business will provide extensive resources for data analysis, including on-site technical advising from Sun Microsystems, more than 80 Sun Ray ultra-thin clients and a new computer lab in the heart of Schulze Hall.

It also will facilitate dissemination of valuable information through roundtable discussions and white papers on key issues. As a school, an array of technology-based teaching tools will introduce some of the most advanced instructional technologies available in the classroom and networking opportunities for students, thanks to the program.

In conjunction with the launch of the COE, the College of Business is introducing a new Department of Decision Sciences, which will teach and develop new approaches toward managerial practice via technology throughout its business curriculum.

The COE has implications for a broad array of industries and business sectors, including security and identity, risk management and reinsurance, retail, product prototyping, electronic commerce, “stateless computing” and others. Examples include:

• The robust data analysis, modeling and forecasting capability through the Sun COE will be used to understand risk management in the reinsurance field, examining the critical areas of financial controls and compliance.

• In security and identity management, the center features use of Java Card, technology-based smart cards that are used with the Sun Ray thin client for each student, uses Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telecommunications technology for business school offices, and through an initiative with Sun Microsystems, Cisco and IPcelerate, will examine new business approaches toward identity verification.

• In the retail sector, the modeling and forecasting capabilities of Sun’s Solaris Operating System and hardware systems, innovative uses of technologies such as RFID, and access to Open Source solutions are the bases of a major initiative set to ramp up over several years.

Puto noted that with worldwide headquarters for both Best Buy and Target Corporation located in Minneapolis, together with St. Thomas’ national retail reputation through Professor David Brennan, the retail sector will especially benefit from the presence of the Sun Center of Excellence.

Puto believes the activities at the University of St. Thomas spawned by the Sun COE designation will accelerate technology transfer and business venture activities in the Twin Cities and throughout the world. Entrepreneur Magazine designated the Twin Cities as the top-ranked metropolitan area for entrepreneurship in 2003.

Information sessions related to the Sun COE for business interpretation will be incorporated into the public opening activities of the new Schulze School of Entrepreneurship building in October 2005.

The Sun COE is a partnership between Sun Microsystems (; the St. Thomas College of Business (; Cisco Systems (; Ncell Systems Inc. ( a Minnesota-based Education Market Area Partner, systems integrator and software developer; Enventis, a Minnesota-based telecommunications provider and IPcelerate, a VOIP solutions provider with headquarters in Texas.