PULLMAN, Wash. — Today (Nov. 18), Washington State University announced that Microsoft Research University Relations has made an $825,000 gift to WSU’s Management Information Systems business program and its new electronic classroom by donating 1,075 licenses of the latest Microsoft business software.

“We are privileged to help universities empower talented students,” says Craig Cumberland, senior program manager for the Microsoft Research department. “We support MIS, computer science, and engineering education and research efforts around the world that demonstrate excellence and vision, and WSU’s MIS program clearly meets these criteria.”

The Microsoft Research University Relations’ gift to the e-classroom includes 215 licenses each of Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, Microsoft Office Developer 2000, Microsoft Project 2000, Microsoft Visual Studio Enterprise Edition 6.0 and Microsoft Visio Professional 2000 software. The market value of the software is just under $825,000.

The software will support all levels of MIS business classes taught in the new e-classroom, says Joe Valacich, WSU’s Marian E. Smith Presidential Endowed Chair and George and Carolyn Hubman Distinguished Professor of MIS. That includes Technological Survival Skills, BASIC Programming, Applications Program Development, Management Information Systems, Database Management Systems, Electronic Commerce and the Internet, Strategic Information Technology Management, and Systems Analysis and Design.

“These courses impact every level in our undergraduate program, from beginning- through senior-level MIS classes,” says Len Jessup, WSU MIS coordinator and the Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professor of MIS. “This gift is a tremendous boost for our program, and using this software in our new electronic classroom will give our students access to the latest technology available.”

Cumberland worked closely with WSU MIS faculty during the planning of the e-classroom that was officially opened and dedicated Saturday, Nov. 18, by Gov. Gary Locke in pre-Apple Cup ceremonies.

The e-classroom itself cost $500,000 and was built from funding by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating board, WSU, the College of Business and Economics, and private donors. It features 48 networked computers, a central command station, and three wall-mounted LCD screens, and also has video-conferencing and distance education capabilities.

Recent benchmarking studies by Jessup and faculty have proven the WSU MIS program to be the leader in the Northwest, says Jessup. The program’s goal is to quickly become one of the top in the world.

Microsoft University Relations, a division of Microsoft Research, is dedicated to building world-class relationships with colleges and universities that enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation and establish Microsoft as a leading technology partner for higher education. Established in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. The goal is to develop new technologies to simplify and enhance the user’s computing experience, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and facilitate the creation of new types of software. For more information on Microsoft Research and its University Relations department, see http://research.microsoft.com/ .

MIS is the most popular major in WSU’s business college, with nearly 500 majors in fall 2000. Graduates of the program take jobs in the Northwest with starting salaries around $45,000 plus signing bonuses and stock options. Graduate studies in MIS at the master’s and doctoral levels are also offered at WSU.