Graduate Programs in Software to join UST College of Business

Graduate Programs in Software to join UST College of Business

The university is pleased to announce the move of Graduate Programs in Software into the College of Business. This will bring together our small group of dedicated faculty in GPS with the larger resource base of the College of Business. The net result is to put both units at the forefront of the newest frontier in professional education.

Rapid advances in information science and the pressing need of successful businesses for information technology make the integration of IT and business education an imperative for future success. In his remarks during the Oct. 20, 2005, dedication of Schulze Hall, Bill Gates stated that “one of the things that has always surprised me throughout my career is finding people who have a mix of skills – who understand technology and understand business. That’s quite a rare person. There are a lot of people who understand business alone or understand technology alone. Some of the great things that need to be done – the leadership that needs to come forward – is something that can’t come in isolation.”  

Informed of St. Thomas’ plans to bring information technology programs into the College of Business, Gates added, “I applaud some of the innovative programs in this school – to bring together students from different backgrounds, to develop those broad interdisciplinary skills. Those are absolutely necessary elements as we charge out in the future.”

Gates’ views mesh with those we have heard from chief information officers at major corporations based in the region. In a series of interviews I conducted with them last spring, I learned that the faculty in GPS are recognized and respected for their expertise in technology. The faculty in the College of Business, in turn, are recognized and respected for their expertise in bringing the real world of business into the classroom. Putting these elements together will keep St. Thomas in the forefront of academic innovation and leadership.

The initial steps in this process began in the fall semester, and the two units will be fully integrated by the end of this academic year. The GPS faculty and staff will continue to be located on the south campus in St. Paul in the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Science and Engineering Center. All programs in GPS will continue in their present form so that there will be no disruption of academic progress for current students. New programs, joint degrees and other forms of collaboration are already in discussion, and we can expect to hear much about this new organizational structure in the coming months and years.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to better serve the business and professional communities in the Twin Cities and beyond,” said Dr. Christopher Puto, dean of the College of Business. “We are very excited to welcome our new colleagues from GPS. With the technology advances we have gained through our Sun Center of Excellence in Schulze Hall, I can envision groundbreaking projects using technology to enhance the performance and success of business start-ups and to improve the productivity of existing business organizations.”

Dr. Bhabani Misra, interim director of GPS, expressed similar excitement: “We believe this move will be a significant benefit to students in both programs as well as to the employers who hire our graduates. The possibilities are limited only by the time it takes to put new initiatives in place.”

From an organizational perspective, GPS will become the eighth academic department within the College of Business, alongside Accounting, Decision Sciences, Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Business Law, Finance, Management and Organizations, and Marketing.

Misra functions in the dual role of program director and department chair. Current program requirements will remain intact. The expanded College of Business Curriculum Committee is exploring options for collaborative learning by students from both programs. Likely first steps will include enrolling aspiring software entrepreneurs in New Business Formation courses and MBA students in core technology courses. Other courses and program options can be expected to emerge in the coming months.

“St. Thomas has long been known for its entrepreneurial spirit and academic leadership,” said Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas. “I commend the vision of our academic leaders and the support of the business leaders in our region for bringing this educational innovation to the University of St. Thomas and the greater Twin Cities community.”