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2010.03.18 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

New School of Interdisciplinary Informatics Focuses on Expanding Role of IT Integration

Omaha - The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) College of Information Science and Technology’s new School of Interdisciplinary Informatics is a direct response to the expanding role of Information Technology (IT) within various disciplines, said Dean Hesham Ali.

“Our college has nurtured many interdisciplinary collaborations with UNO colleges, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a number of business partners,” Ali said. “The School of Interdisciplinary Informatics will serve as the hub of these interdisciplinary activities, and will further support and strengthen partnerships with regional and local corporations and government agencies.”

Ali said the school also will strengthen and grow IS&T’s partnerships with the public sector and not-for-profit organizations.

“The emergence of eGovernment and Public Health Informatics are examples of many initiatives in the public sector that leverage the interdisciplinary aspects of IT,” Ali said. “The school will significantly improve the college’s ability to foster current partnership – and create many new ones.”

The School of Interdisciplinary Informatics will:
• promote growth of interdisciplinary areas;
• facilitate innovative partnerships with external constituents and leverage the expertise of the local community;
• reduce barriers to collaboration;
• provide a flexible and agile structure for quick response to opportunities;
• solidify regional and national recognition as an important resource for the study and advancement of IT in the domain of health care, biosciences and information security;
• promote visibility of the college and its interdisciplinary focus;
• provide a magnet for collaborative external funding; and,
• help to develop the next generation workforce to address local, regional and national needs in exciting new interdisciplinary domains.

“IT’s role currently involves a complete integration with a growing number of disciplines,” Ali said. “This has resulted in the creation of exciting new areas such as bioinformatics, public health informatics, information assurance, IT innovation, collaboration science and multimedia systems. In this new role, IT is fast becoming the basis for the development of tools and innovations that are needed in other disciplines, particularly biological sciences and health care.”

The school will house the undergraduate and graduate degrees in Bioinformatics and Information Assurance. In addition, it will be the home to the new bachelor’s degree in IT Innovation. Current faculty members associated with these programs will form the core faculty of the school.

Ali said the new school would allow the college to capitalize upon a growing number of interdisciplinary opportunities by leveraging organizational structures, resources and programs already in place.

The school also will serve as the academic unit for interdisciplinary IT initiatives such as Collaboration Science and Public Health Informatics. There are 10 faculty members of the college who will call the school their academic home. Members of other units in the college, and units in the University of Nebraska system, will serve as associate faculty in the school.

“The addition of the School for Interdisciplinary Informatics will ensure that the College of IS&T can create a niche to sustain the roots of the IT field (computer science and MIS) while allowing new applied disciplines such as bioinformatics and information assurance to bloom in an appropriate organizational structure,” Ali said. “The new school will also create a unique institutionalized focus on interdisciplinary informatics.”

The school’s director will be a full-time member of the college faculty who has yet to be named. The director will report to Ali.

Ali said the new school would allow the college to capitalize upon a growing number of interdisciplinary opportunities by leveraging already existing organizational structures and programs.

“The vision of the School of Interdisciplinary Informatics is to build upon the college’s strengths in these fundamental IT disciplines, while at the same time developing educational and training programs for graduates who will be uniquely positioned to fulfill the demands for interdisciplinary specialists," Ali said.

More information about the new school is available at http://si2.ist.unomaha.edu or by calling (402) 554-2380.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. 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.

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