MSMIS program revises curriculum to prepare future CIOs.

Veronica Gómes, IBM, MSMIS student; Tatiana López, MSMIS program assistant;
Juan Poggio
, Telefónica USA, MSMIS advisory board member and alumnus;
Zuzana Hlavacova, MSMIS program manager; and Julia Accárdo,
FP&L, MSMIS alumna at the MSMIS retreat in Key Largo

Despite the laid-back atmosphere in the Florida Keys, a recent two-day retreat held in Key Largo to evaluate the Master of Science-Management Information Systems (MSMIS) program in the Alvah H. Chapman Graduate School of Business was anything but relaxed. The event was packed with presentations and intense discussions among members of the Decision Sciences and Information Systems (DSIS) department, a host of advisory board members, top researchers in the field, and program staff members.

It was all part of the five-year curriculum review undertaken by each Chapman School program to ensure that it prepares students for the realities of an ever-changing business environment.

“Five years ago, IT outsourcing was not a major issue, and the Internet was not the major force it is today,” said Irma Becerra-Fernández, associate professor in the DSIS department and faculty director of the MSMIS program. “To continue to meet our goal of graduating students who are qualified to take leadership positions in IT in South Florida, we have to evolve our curriculum to ensure they are ready for such transformations.”

The group analyzed programs similar to those in the College of Business Administration and top programs in the country to see if they follow the 2006 Model MSMIS Curriculum—which they do. Participants also benchmarked the college’s offerings against the model.

“At the end of two days, we reached a good understanding of what needs to change, then met with the faculty and decided on short- and long-term recommendations, which we presented to our advisory board two weeks after the retreat,” Becerra-Fernández said.

Some recommendations will be implemented immediately.

“We are consolidating two courses and creating a new one starting this fall,” said Zuzana Hlavacova, program manager. “In the spring, we will offer one elective, giving students the option of taking a course with an IS management focus, such as globalization applications of IS, or one with a more technical focus.”

“The advisory board felt that offering electives was very important,” said Juan Poggio (BS ’00, MSMIS ’03), global service and project manager, Telefónica USA, who became a member of the advisory board as a student and who now brings the perspective of an alumnus as well as of a professional. “We hope that as many as four electives will be available over time.”

“Our advisory board members also indicated that the ability to communicate well is very important, and we will begin to offer professional development seminars to improve our students’ writing, critical thinking, and presentation skills,” Becerra-Fernández said.

Although preparing for the retreat, working through issues at that event and the advisory board meeting, and now making adjustments to the program has been challenging, Becerra-Fernández couldn’t be happier about the process.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “It’s so rewarding when you can effect change that will have a huge impact on helping our students be successful in meeting the needs of employers.”

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