Exciting News and Furthering the Case for Academic Partnerships with Industry

Well, you can add one point to the tally for those folks that say MIS needs to be relevant to industry.  It was announced today that UALR has received some substantial grants from Microsoft!  I had been holding off posting about this until the press release came out.


Microsoft Contributes $3.5 Million In-Kind to UALR College of Business

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Feb. 1, 2011) – UALR’s College of Business has received three significant in-kind software contributions from Microsoft Corp., including operating systems and the cutting edge Azure Cloud technology. The gifts are valued at $3.5 million.

“Microsoft recognizes the value of education in training the business leaders of tomorrow and is
proud to contribute its technology to your outstanding educational program,” Dr. Bradley K.
Jensen, principal academic relationship manager at Microsoft Corp., told Business
Dean Anthony F. Chelte.

Most of the $3.5 million is for students and faculty to use its enterprise software for a year. Also, the company offered Azure software access and storage for management information systems (MIS) curriculum and research over the next year, valued at $15,000 to include the access fee, data storage fees, and utilization fees.

Microsoft additionally donated Client Access Licenses for the MIS programs to use for a year.
This software donation is currently valued at $52,000.

Microsoft intends to renew these licenses for the College of Business annually for the
foreseeable future, Jensen said.

“The Microsoft partnership that our management information systems faculty has developed
significantly enhances our ability to offer our students a high quality, focused, and relevant
business education,” Chelte said. “Without this level of support, we would not be able to
provide this type of high-level technology exposure to our students, which certainly gives them
an advantage when applying for jobs.

“My faculty and I are grateful to Dr. Jensen and Microsoft for enabling our grads to have an even-more valued degree.”


I am really proud of this because it shows what can result from developing partnerships with industry.  How do you do this?  Well, in general, you have to show industry that you can provide something that benefits them first.  Once you do that, then it will be in their best interest to provide resources to continue the partnership.

Sounds simple, right?  The problem is that for industry to buy into a program, that program has to be selling something.  And this is where most IS programs fall woefully short in my opinion.  So that leads us to the next question.  How do I sell my program to industry partners so they buy in?  I will give you some suggestions that have worked for my colleague and I as we developed our industry partnerships.

  1. Participate in student competitions such as the Microsoft Imagine Cup or any other student competition.  Your students are the product of your program.  You need to find every way you can to showcase how good they are as that will reflect directly on your program.
  2. Engage industry to help provide student projects for your program.  Most organizations have more projects and problems than they can handle and they are generally very happy to get free labor.  Our MIS capstone course has accomplished this with great success.  It was difficult at first, but now we have people knocking down our door to work with our students.  This will further showcase the quality of student that you have, possibly result in higher placement rates that will strengthen your program, and also deepen the ties that you have with industry.
  3. Engage in research that is relevant to industry.  Now I am not saying that you shouldn’t wax theoretical from time to time, but if you get too many people with their heads in the clouds and out of touch with the problems of industry, they will stop paying attention to you.  Find out what problems that industry is having and work to solve them.  You might find that they will be willing participants in your research, which could result in you being much more productive from that prospective.

There are other ways as well, but these are the ones that we have found to be the most effective.  Now I will not lead you down a primrose path.  This takes a lot of work!  However, if you do the work to make your program visible to industry partners and do it right, the rewards are well worth it for both your program and your students.

2 thoughts on “Exciting News and Furthering the Case for Academic Partnerships with Industry

  1. Pingback: Another Way to Develop Academic-Industry Partnerships « Dr. James Parrish

  2. Pingback: Arkansas Technical Educational Symposium « Dr. James Parrish

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