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Thank You from Outgoing Chairman

After four successful years, I stepped down as Chairman of the Department of Information, Risk, and Operations Management (IROM) effective September 1, 2015. Professor Steve Gilbert will now chair the department. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our corporate sponsors, recruiters, alumni, faculty, staff, and advisory board and steering committee members. Without your support, I could not have successfully managed the department during turbulent times.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I began my leadership role at a time the economy took a major hit leading to extraordinary budgetary cuts. Nevertheless, four years later, through a host of initiatives, we generated a cash surplus in the department to support faculty research, teaching, pedagogical innovations (e.g., flipped classroom), travel, graduate students, undergraduate graders, and activities to bring greater engagement with industry and students.

Our MIS major continues to attract significant interest among students. Since fall 2011, the number of MIS majors went up from 233 to 361. During the same period supply chain majors increased from 121 to 221. Once again, MIS continues to be among the top 5 in the nation in all rankings, while Gartner ranked supply chain major ranked number 4. Despite budget cuts, we continued to innovate our curriculum by increasing specialized electives in mobile computing, business analytics, supply chain analytics, social network analysis, and quantitative finance. These classes have attracted significant interest from students. The MIS curriculum is now being revised to include greater rigor and modern tools. Some of these changes have taken effect starting in fall 2015.

I initiated and founded one of the first self-funded MS programs in Business Analytics (MSBA) in the nation in collaboration with industry.  Although governed entirely by the IROM department, this is an interdisciplinary program with a commitment from 29 faculty members from IROM, Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science. This program is financially very successful generating around $2.4 million in revenue for 2015-16 and potentially generating a surplus to support various activities that I described above. I am very thankful to our strategic business partners whose support helped the approval process through the University, UT System Board of Regents, and the Texas State Higher Education Board.  This is a highly successful program with a near 100% placement record and a record number of applicants. For 2015-16 we received 650 applicants for just 50-60 slots. The student profile in terms of GMAT/GRE scores and GPA is the highest among all McCombs Master’s program. We worked very hard to attract women and domestic students. In our first batch in 2013-14, we had 50% women in our program. Today we have 60-65% domestic students, which is rare among most universities offering business analytics.

We have an exciting possibility. I have been given permission to explore MS in Information Systems! We would like to build an innovative program that differentiates us from numerous other programs around the nation.

To end my note, thank you again for all your support. Please do keep in touch and let us know when you visit McCombs.