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2009.07.21 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

UNO Offers New Undergraduate Degree, Focus is Flexibility and IT Entrepreneurship

Omaha - University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) students looking to study Information Technology have several degree options at UNO’s College of Information Science and Technology (IS&T).

But beginning this fall, students can marry an IT degree with another, customized field of study from literally any program on the UNO campus.

Developing the new Bachelor of Science in IT Innovation has been the work of Jerry Wagner, director of the program and a senior research fellow with the College of IS&T. UNO students have often expressed interest in focusing their IT coursework with application to another field of their interest. Such a program allows students to better meet their career goals, Wagner said.

Students pursing the new bachelor’s degree are required to take 52 credit hours of general education courses; 36 hours of Information Technology courses; 33 hours of “flexible” courses from elsewhere on campus referred to as “practice specialties”; and a two-semester capstone course their senior year. During the capstone course, students will develop an IT product or service, document its technical and market feasibility, and create a prototype.

Interdisciplinary practice specialties could include -- but are not limited to -- management, marketing, finance, accounting, economics, mathematics, psychology, aviation, communication, fine arts, technical writing, graphic design, engineering and geography. Students will be required to create a combined oral, visual and written proposal detailing their practice specialty, course selections and their reasoning behind their course selections. The students would defend their proposals before an approval committee.

Additionally, students will attend workshops, conferences and seminars about entrepreneurship on campus and in the community. Each student will also be assigned a mentor in the business community.

Wagner said the degree is ideal for students who wish to become an entrepreneur or an intraprenuer; the latter encourages employees to use entrepreneurial skills within an established organization.

Faculty in all UNO programs have enthusiastically supported the new degree and agreed to work with IT students to customize their field of study.

Kandace R. Miller, president and CEO of the Applied Information Management Institute, is one of several Omaha business executives who already support the new degree and recognize its capacity for student success after graduation.

“IT has moved from being a niche specialty that serves a specific function within an organization to being integrated into all of the key functions of business and operations,” Miller said. “The new degree recognizes and addresses this change, allowing students to develop specific competencies in IT while also being able to pursue their passions in other areas – be they in art, science, education, communication, business or some other field.”

Lynn J. Baldwin, president of Baldwin Hackett and Meeks, Inc., views the degree as another way students can prepare for a wide variety of potential employment opportunities.

“We need students who have the interdisciplinary flexibility to combine computing technology with other disciplines in order to provide value to a wide range of businesses and organizations,” Baldwin said. “We always want to bring an innovation component to what we offer.”

Dr. Hesham Ali, dean of UNO’s College of IS&T, believes that the new degree addresses an important niche and is one of the first of its kind in the country.

“We strongly believe that we have charted an interdisciplinary and collaborative path for our college that will make it one of a kind in the nation," Ali said. "This degree is one more step achieving this ambition.”

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The celebration recognizes the partnership among the City of Omaha, its citizens and UNO to build a vibrant and dynamic community. The centennial theme is UNO: Central To Our City Since 1908. This theme acknowledges the past contributions of UNO to the community and sets the stage for great things to come. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908. For Centennial information, go to www.unomaha.edu/100/.

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