UALR information quality graduate program celebrates 10 years of success

John Talburt, left, introduces the members of the Information Quality Graduate Program Founder's Panel, including Dr. Mary Good, Charles Morgan, and Dr. Richard Wang.

When Acxiom executives agreed to help sponsor the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s new graduate program in information quality 10 years ago, they had no idea how successful the program would become. 

“This program has far exceeded my expectations of what it would ever do,” said Charles Morgan, former company leader of Acxiom Corp. and now CEO of PrivacyStar.

In its first 10 years, advanced students from around the world have completed 204 degrees through the world’s first graduate program in information quality.

UALR students and faculty members, along with business and community leaders, celebrated the program’s achievements during a 10th anniversary celebration Sept. 30 at the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology auditorium.

During a panel featuring three of the graduate program’s founders, Morgan recalled how excited he was about the possibility that the program could produce graduates capable of tackling industry problems.

“When we tried to hire young graduates, they had no idea what data quality meant. It was a totally meaningless concept to young people,” Morgan said.

Other members of the panel included Richard Wang, co-director for MIT’s Total Data Quality Management Program and executive director of the UALR Institute for Chief Data Officers, and Dr. Mary Good, founding dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology.

During the ceremony’s introduction, UALR Chancellor Andrew Rogerson emphasized the fact that universities need more innovative graduate programs that create graduates who can think, communicate, work well in groups, and solve problems.

“Any form of research or scholarship or creative activity that gives students the so-called pillars of leadership and the ability to think creatively and find solutions to problems in the future, problems we cannot even conceive of today, will enable graduates to compete and succeed in the increasingly complex, information-based global economy,” Rogerson said.

University leaders also celebrated the inauguration of the Institute for Chief Data Officers, the first academic institute devoted solely to the professional development of chief data officers, and the graduates of the institute’s first workshop. The workshop, “Foundations for Chief Data Officers,” was held Sept. 26-29 at UALR.

In his keynote address, Mark Ramsey, chief data officer of GlaxoSmithKline, reiterated the need for an institute to train people how to be chief data officers in today’s changing world.

“Data is the new business currency,” Ramsey said. “The chief data officer is meant to help an organization drive value out of the data in their organization. An explosion of data is one of the things that has been happening over the past couple of years.”

John Talburt, coordinator of the Information Quality Graduate Program, and Elizabeth Pierce, chair of the Department of Information Science, recognized the graduates who have earned more than 200 degrees from the graduate program in its 10 years. Degrees earned include 64 graduate certificates, 167 master’s degrees, and 18 doctorates in integrated computing with a track on information quality.  

Talburt next recognized the event’s gold sponsor, PWC. Additional sponsors recognized included Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the International Society of Chief Data Officers, Inteliblue, Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., Arkansas Department of Education, Black Oak Analytics, Collibra, UALR Institute for Chief Data Officers, and Spotright.

As for the future of the program, the addition of the Institute for Chief Data Officers will attract more information quality students to pursue research with the institute while completing the integrated computing doctoral program.

Talburt hopes these students will join academia to eventually create similar information quality graduate programs at major universities across the country.

In the upper right photo, John Talburt, left, introduces the members of the Information Quality Graduate Program Founder’s Panel, including Dr. Mary Good, Charles Morgan, and Dr. Richard Wang. 

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