UALR, MIT create first institute for chief data officers

Dr. Lawrence Whitman, announces the creation of the Institute for Chief Data Officers at the opening session of the MIT Chief Data Officers and Information Quality Symposium on July 12. Pictured, from left to right, are Dr. Richard Wang, executive managing director of the institute; Dr. Larry Whitman; Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, chair of the Department of Information Science; and Dr. John Talburt, UALR campus director of the institute.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have partnered to create the first academic institute devoted solely to the professional development of chief data officers.

The primary role of the Institute for Chief Data Officers will be to train professionals who will take on the role of chief data officers and to provide opportunities for doctoral students to conduct research on chief data officers.

“Think of a chief data officer as a person who is primarily responsible for the data at a company, making sure it is of the right quality and that the use of it is warranted,” said Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the UALR George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology. “For most large organizations, including universities, data is one of the biggest assets we own.”

Related: Watch Dr. Lawrence Whitman and Dr. John Talburt discuss the Institute for Chief Data Officers

According to the Stamford, Connecticut-based information technology research company Gartner, 90 percent of large organizations will have a chief data officer by 2019.

The International Society of Chief Data Officers has also entered into a partnership with the new institute. In addition to donating $25,000 to the creation of the institute, the society will provide research topics and input for doctoral students to conduct research at the institute.

Dr. Richard Wang will lead the institute as the executive managing director after a decade at MIT, where he serves as the co-director for MIT’s Total Data Quality Management Program.

In 2006, Wang helped Dr. John Talburt, a professor of information science who will serve as the UALR campus director at the institute, create the UALR Information Quality Graduate Program, which offers a graduate certificate, master’s degree, and doctoral program.

“We will now be leaders in not only information quality, but also in the training of chief data officers,” Talburt said. “There is a movement in industry and government that information needs to be managed as an enterprise asset. In order to make this happen, there needs to be an executive-level leader of data strategies for the company who will determine how will they monetize and create value from their data assets.”

Whitman will serve as chairman of the institute’s board of advisors. Program Manager Nihal Erian and Co-Director for China Programs Ningning Wu will also join the institute at UALR. At MIT, Dr. Stuart Madnick will serve as the campus director.

The first training course offered by the institute will be “Foundations for Chief Data Officers.” The course will be held Sept. 26-29, 2016, and Feb. 6-9, 2017, at UALR.

It will cover the definition and landscape of chief data officers, introductions to big data concepts, data analytics, data integration, and data policy, strategy, and governance.

Whitman, who announced the creation of the institute at the opening session of the MIT Chief Data Officers and Information Quality Symposium on July 12, said there was great interest in the institute throughout the conference.

“People came up to me the entire conference to talk about being involved with the Institute for Chief Data Officers,” Whitman said. “Students inquired about starting their doctoral program with us. Others are interested in proposing research topics and doing research with the institute. Most people were interested in hiring our graduates for positions in big data.”

For more information about the Institute for Chief Data Officers, visit the website or contact iCDO@ualr.edu.

In the upper right photo, Dr. Lawrence Whitman announces the creation of the Institute for Chief Data Officers at the opening session of the MIT Chief Data Officers and Information Quality Symposium on July 12. Pictured, from left to right, are Dr. Richard Wang, executive managing director of the institute; Dr. Larry Whitman; Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, chair of the UALR Department of Information Science; and Dr. John Talburt, UALR campus director of the institute. 

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