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September 27, 2000

Industry Steps In
With High-Tech Teachers

This fall at California State University, Sacramento when College of Business Administration Dean Felicenne Ramey sent out an e-mail, "I desperately need help," she was not surprised that the regional high-tech business community responded, literally within hours.

As a result of her plea nearly 100 students are now being taught in classes, staffed by employees from Intel and Pac Bell.

Development of the entire program, from recognition of need through concept and implementation, took place in less than a month.

In late summer it became apparent there would be a shortage of classes, so Ramey met with Thomas Sandman, chair of management information systems, to examine options. The problem, they determined, was supply and demand. Basically information technology professionals qualified to teach in the field make at least twice as much in industry as in the classroom. "There is no way that we can meet those salaries," Ramey said. But she also believes that if the industry wants well-educated students they need to contribute to the process.

So in her e-mail she wrote, "The basic idea would be that we provide an opportunity for selected professionals to teach courses in our program as part-time faculty. Since these persons are qualified professionals in the information systems area, we will obtain the obvious benefit of having more faculty available to open more class sections. (Your company) would benefit as well since your professionals will be involved on a first-hand basis with potential hires; the opportunity will provide a unique form of professional development for those employees involved; there will be more students trained in the Information Systems area; and (the company) will foster deeper industry-university linkages."

Carlene Ellis of Intel replied, "I understand the issue clearly and think we and other business partners could help." She then proposed to bring in other high-tech business partners to expand the potential teaching pool.

Doug Busch, the CIO of Intel, immediately responded positively coming up with several potential options for employees to teach without being penalized. These included setting up teaching teams of two or three employees with expertise to teach one course; writing teaching opportunities into some new job assignments; and using Intel's education credit program so those employees who teach can donate that money, plus a match from Intel, to any K-12 school.

"This spring," said Ramey, "we will have enough time to add some of the team-taught courses and plan for more. This is good for our faculty to work with people currently in the field, and great for our students. The companies get exposed to our students and their skills. Financially we share the remuneration for these individuals. It's a win-win-win program."


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