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Catawba College Receives $900,000 Gift to Strengthen Programs in Information Systems, Data Analysis

July 29, 2019

Category: Academics, Business & Economics, Gifts, Mathematics, Students

co-stus.pngCatawba College has received a $900,000 anonymous gift to add courses in computer science and begin programs in information systems and data analysis in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, according to an announcement by Dr. Constance Rogers-Lowery, College Provost.

The gift is designed to address students' needs in growing fields and is part of Catawba's current MIND BODY SOUL fund-raising campaign.

With this renewed emphasis on technology, the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science will move into the Ketner School of Business when the fall semester begins.

dougbrown.jpgDr. Doug Brown, a mathematics professor at Catawba for 11 years, has been appointed chair of the School of Mathematics and Computer Science. Dr. Eric Hake, with nine years of experience at Catawba, was earlier named dean of the Ketner School of Business.

The new emphasis will initially add two new faculty positions, a professor of computer science and a professor of data analysis, and the College will offer a minor in Data Analysis, potentially leading to a Bachelor of Science in Data Analysis, according to Brown. The College will also offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Technology. The new degrees will be offered in both the day and evening/online programs.

The gift will also be used to upgrade and expand the computer lab at the School of Business, which is undergoing a major renovation. The renovation is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2020 spring semester.

The new direction will prepare Catawba's business students for successful employment, Hake said. "With the critical thinking skills that a liberal arts education offers, combined with the technical skills needed to navigate today's ever-changing business climate, Catawba students will be sought after in the job market," he said. "Jobs in computer science, data analytics and information systems are top recruitment areas."

Dr. Doug Brown said that the field of data analytics is important in almost every field of endeavor, including business, health care, psychology, social sciences, biology and others. "By offering a minor in Data Analytics that can be paired with a major of choice, Catawba College will position its students to be highly competitive in their search for post-graduation employment, Brown said. "These students will also provide the Rowan County community with a workforce prepared to satisfy the analytical needs of current and future employers."

The reorganization comes as the result of research prepared for the College during the last academic year by Hanover Research.

Lowery said that the new emphasis will address the growing opportunities in computer science and data analytics fields. "The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and the Ketner School of Business already work closely together. This will strengthen the connection," she said.

"Dr. Brown's leadership in faculty committees has been extraordinary. I know that he will help move the department forward," Lowery said. Brown replaces Dr. Sharon Sullivan as department chair, and Sullivan will continue to serve as assistant provost for Assessment and Accreditation. Lowery expressed appreciation for Sullivan's organizational and analytical expertise and her deep commitment to the College, its students and faculty.

The Ketner School of Business was established in 1989 and is named for Ralph W. Ketner, one of the founders of the Food Lion grocery store chain. Ketner was a long-time supporter of the College and School of Business and a native of Rowan County.

In addition to the new B.S. degrees in Information Systems and minor in Data Analytics to be offered in the day and evening programs, the School of Business also offers the following degrees: a B.A. in Accounting, a B.S. in Business Administration, a B.B.A. (nontraditional Bachelor of Business Administration), a B.A. in Communication, a B.A. in Digital Media Production, a B.A. in Economics & Finance, and a B.A. in Integrated Marketing Communication. The existing degrees of the Mathematics and Computer Science will continue to be offered: a B.A. and B.S. in Mathematics, a B.S. in Computer Science, and a B.S. in Mathematical Finance.

The MIND BODY SOUL Campaign for Growth plans to raise $38.2 million to upgrade facilities and begin new programs, ensuring that the College is fully prepared to grow and retain students. The three-year campaign began in October 2018 and has raised $27.2 million to date.

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