PULLMAN, Wash. — At pre-Apple Cup ceremonies Saturday (Nov. 18), Gov. Gary Locke cut a crimson ribbon to officially dedicate a new half-million dollar Management Information Systems electronic classroom at Washington State University. At the same event, attended by WSU President V. Lane Rawlins and several distinguished guests, announcement was made of an $825,000 Microsoft Research gift of software for the computer lab and the MIS program.

“Thanks to the commitment of the Governor’s Office, the Legislature and the state’s Higher Education Coordinating board and private donors, the university and the college are able to offer our business MIS students a top quality learning environment,” says WSU President V. Lane Rawlins. “Graduates of this outstanding program are already helping to fill the need in the state for technology-educated employees.” The HEC board alone designated nearly $125,000 toward the MIS e-classroom.

The lab was specifically designed to give business MIS students hands-on experience using the latest information technology to solve business problems. It features 48 networked stations with LCD pop-up screens; a central teaching command station with touchscreen capabilities; and three large, wall-mounted display screens in the front of the tiered classroom. Fashioned after MIS teaching classrooms at leading university programs in the Southwest and the Midwest, this is the newest and most-high tech of six computer labs in the WSU College of Business and Economics. Scheduled to be filled with MIS classes starting in January, the room is also equipped for video-conferencing and distance education teaching that will extend its educational utility far beyond its maple- and cherry-paneled walls.

Gov. Locke has spoken of the demand for high tech-educated workers in the state, and WSU’s career and electronic-commerce savvy business students have responded in force. In the past five years, MIS has experienced dramatic growth in majors – from 85 to nearly 500 in fall 2000, not including second majors and minors. This makes MIS the most popular major in the CBE. Graduates of the rigorous business program often get starting salaries of at least $45,000 with an undergraduate degree, plus signing bonuses and stock options. Their advancement potential into executive positions is tremendous.

What exactly is “MIS?” It is definitely more than computer programming, says Joe Valacich, Marian E. Smith Presidential Chair and George and Carolyn Hubman MIS Distinguished Professor, and Len Jessup, Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professor in MIS and MIS program coordinator. Jessup defines MIS as “the design, implementation, deployment, management and study of computer-based information systems in organizations.” Students use information technology to solve business problems and to help companies gain and sustain competitive advantage, Valacich says. Recent benchmarking studies by MIS faculty prove WSU MIS to be the leading program in the Northwest; the program’s goal is to quickly become one of the top in the world.

Note to Editors: For more information on MIS, the new e-classroom, or other news from the WSU College of Business and Economics, contact Beverly Makhani, CBE communications director, at 509/335-3957, makhani@wsu.edu .

Information on the $825,000 Microsoft Research gift is available in the WSU press release titled, “WSU MIS E-Classroom Receives Microsoft Research Gift.”