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Abilene Christian University creates new School of Information Technology and Computing

June 22, 2006

Abilene Christian University has created a new School of Information Technology and Computing, announced Dr. Royce Money, ACU president.

"The new school offers undergraduate majors and minors, and provides consulting and research expertise to address the needs of the information society in which we live," Money said. "We're preparing students to lead in the information technology and computing fields that continue to rapidly change our world."

The School of Information Technology and Computing will offer programs that are interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. The school will be incubated in the College of Business Administration, but within a one- to two-year time frame, it will stand alone with a director or dean reporting to the provost.

"Students and faculty in various disciplines and programs of the university are excited about these new educational opportunities," said Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, ACU provost.  "Over time, the school plans to include institutes or centers that focus on research and development, including the needs of the telecommunications industry and technology needs of non-profit organizations."

Initially, three majors will be offered through the new school: information technology, information systems, and computer science. Previously, the computer science major was offered in the College of Arts and Sciences. The School of Information Technology and Computing will be functional in the fall of 2006 and fully operational within a year. Students who enroll this fall will graduate from the new school.

Dr. Tim Coburn, professor of management sciences and statistics, will serve as the interim director of the School of Information Technology and Computing. He will guide curriculum revision and development, assist with the marketing of the program, and recruitment of new students.

"The School of Information Technology and Computing will focus on teaching, research and service in this growing field of study," Coburn said. "The new school will attract new, gifted, high quality students to ACU." Potential ACU students currently rank technology/computing/information systems in their top 10 desired majors.

While the School of Information Technology and Computing will offer three majors, it will also provide foundational courses for concentrations in technology-related areas in other departments, VanRheenen said.

Two years ago a consulting team brought to the university paved the way for the new School of Information Technology and Computing with a report exploring the future opportunities for academic study in the information technology and computing fields. The consultants interviewed faculty, met with students, reviewed visiting committee reports, examined national data on career opportunities and examined benchmark data.

"They were impressed with our expertise and talent," VanRheenen said. "They noted that more than 20 faculty and staff have master’s degrees or doctorates in the field."

One goal of the program, VanRheenen explained, is to enable faculty members within the School of Information Technology and Computing to provide an extraordinary learning experience for students and prepare them to be exceptional recruits for high-tech careers when they graduate.

The School of Information Technology and Computing will also provide opportunities for faculty and students to engage in applied research, service and consulting to address emerging technological needs in our region, VanRheenen said.
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