SBC donating $1 million to MU

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:46 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

MU students interested in computer science will soon have a third option for a degree program. SBC Communications announced Tuesday it will give $1 million to MU’s College of Engineering for a new information technology studies program.

The gift will cover the cost of computers and faculty and will be paid over the next five years.

The degree program, pending approval from the state Coordinating Board for Higher Education, will target students interested in digital media and system administration, maintenance and security.

“Right now there’s a void on campus for this type of comprehensive program,” Jim Thompson, dean of the Engineering College, said in a statement from the MU News Bureau.

The bachelor of science degree in information technology will offer classes in four areas: information systems, mobile computing, game design and entertainment technology.

“We want to be responsive to the needs of industry and generate talented graduates in the state, working for Missouri companies,” Thompson said.

Several classes that will be part of the program, such as database application and information systems and modeling and animation, have already been phased in by the department with positive reaction. Students have even been turned away from classes such as modeling and animation because there wasn’t enough room, said Kannappan Palaniappan, associate professor of computer engineering and computer science.

“This support from SBC will help to meet the institutional goals of the program,” said Palaniappan, who was the chairman of a committee that developed the curriculum for the new program.

Administrators in the school expect as many as 100 students to enroll in the program this year. The department hopes the donation will allow the college to attract a more diverse group of students, making them stronger candidates for businesses with diversity needs.

“It gives us tremendous visibility,” Palaniappan said.

Palaniappan added that the program will have a greater emphasis on the technology side and tools used in the industry.

Computer science students welcome the new program.

“I’m all for it,” said senior William Moore, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science. “If this university had game design, game development and graphic design courses, I would take them.”

MUnow offers two undergraduate degrees in computer science. One — with a stronger emphasis on science and math — is offered through the College of Engineering. The other is offered through the College of Arts and Sciences.

Moore, who works for local Internet service provider Tranquility Internet, said the university needs to be serious about the specialization of the new degree. Moore had only one regret when he heard about SBC’s donation: “I just wish it had come earlier.”

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