President's Message: The Importance of Our Student Chapters
Monday, March 31, 2014
It’s a beautiful sunny day in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, where
the AIS Student Chapter Leadership Conference is about to come to an end.
Meeting the cream of our student crop here at the Arizona State
University-hosted conference has been a delightful and eye opening experience.
Students from 26 student chapters (including one group from Cairo, Egypt),
along with their faculty advisers and dozens of company and sponsor
representatives, engage in meaningful conversation in every corner. The
presentations by the student leaders, by IS alumni, and by local CIOs are
uniformly high quality. Finalists from four competition tracks gave their final
presentations yesterday. I was fortunate to be a judge in the IT Video track,
and all three final products are worthy of high accolades. I particularly want
to draw your attention to the winning entry by Utah State University, which you
can view here. This is a
wonderful example of how our student chapters can help us attract and retain
high caliber students into our majors. It’s a hoot!
While student chapters may, at first glance, seem far afield
from our central mission as a professional organization, my experience at this
conference has taught me that they may represent one of our best tools for
increasing the number and quality of students in IS programs. From the
presentations and conversations I have participated in here, I have learned a
great deal about the many ways in which these students have helped their
departments grow the number of majors or provide a richer experience for the
students they do have. Many chapters host weekly events ranging from speakers
from a local SIM chapter, to hands-on workshops to obtain Microsoft
certifications, to mock interviews with alumni, to community service
activities. Some treat the chapter as an honor society, limiting membership,
while others are elective, and still others include all majors as its members.
What particularly struck me was a comment by one faculty adviser who has
tracked chapter alumni starting salaries, noting that the chapter leadership
salaries were $8000 higher than other IS graduates.
So my question is why don’t more schools open up this
wonderful opportunity to their students? Does your university host a student
chapter? If not, what is stopping you? The requirements are few – you need a
faculty member who is excited about enabling students to achieve leadership
qualities, students to be members and leaders, and a modest annual fee that is
recoverable by charging a small amount of dues or by convincing your department
chair or dean or local companies of the value to both the students and the
department. Where is the value? Students get true value from the
extracurricular activities the chapter hosts and the honor mantle bestowed at
graduation recognizes the merit of the experience beyond their time on campus.
Student leaders get valuable management training and extra contacts with the
outside world. The department has more to offer beyond an array of courses, and
should be able to translate an active chapter into a marketing tool to increase
student rolls. Competition entrants win medals and plaques for their efforts,
which brings recognition to the university they represent. Companies have
better opportunities to reach the most interested and high quality students
they look to attract, outside of the interview process. The student chapter
conference gives all attendees a chance to meet other students with different
viewpoints and recommendations for how to improve local chapters, and sponsors
gain a fast track to meeting a cross section of their future star employees.
AIS is looking for ways to introduce student chapters to
more universities around the world. Most of our chapters are in North America,
but the few that exist in other countries also find it enormously valuable for
students, departments, and even university accreditation efforts. The Student
Chapter Advisory Board would like to hear from members with questions, concerns
or ideas on how we might improve this initiative or attract new chapters. The
Board is led by our Vice President of Student Chapters.
Our current Vice President, Lise Urbaczewski of University
or Michigan, Dearborn, has done a phenomenal job of moving the chapter
initiative forward. The Phoenix conference is her last in this position, and I
want to take this opportunity to thank her for the time, heart and soul she has
poured into our student chapters. While she will remain on the advisory board,
I also take this opportunity to welcome our newly appointed Vice President of Student Chapters, James Parrish of Nova Southeastern University, who has some
exciting ideas for expanding student chapters into new directions and adding
new benefits for those who join the chapters. You can reach James at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas and
I leave Phoenix today having met a number of fascinating
students from many universities and trading ideas with many of their faculty
advisors. I take with me renewed confidence in the value of student chapters,
and a stronger desire to convince more of you, our members, to take advantage
of the benefits of this activity for your own students and university.
Jane Fedorowicz, AIS President