Celebrating 50 Years of MIS

Celebrating 50 Years of MIS

Saturday, September 1, 2018


Fifty years ago, three University of Minnesota professors pooled their individual areas of expertise to create a new discipline. From that small beginning, the discipline, Management Information Systems (MIS), has grown and matured to become a major academic field in business schools throughout the world and an integral component of companies’ day-to-day operations.

To mark its first half-century, more than 100 people gathered at the Carlson School May 31 to June 2 for a special celebration and academic conference. Among those in attendance were nearly 60 MIS professors—current, former, and retired; as well as PhD graduates, members of the department’s three advisory boards, local corporate partners, and other friends of the program.

While having time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, conference goers were treated to seminars on the impact of MIS, current research findings, and what the future holds for the discipline.

“Welcome home,” said Professor Alok Gupta, the Curtis L. Carlson School-wide Chair in Information Management, at the keynote address to a packed auditorium. “It is my honor and privilege to welcome you to this golden jubilee celebration of the founding of this wonderful academic field.”

Gupta said there was no other way to begin the conference than by thanking those three individuals from 1968: Professors Gordon Davis, Tom Hoffman, and Gary Dickson. Gupta set the stage: Davis, with an accounting background, was all about efficiency that could be found by using computers. Hoffman loved algorithms. And Dickson—who later founded and was first chief editor of MIS Quarterly, one of the top scholarly journals of the discipline—dreamed about humans with computers. As the three collaborated, they found they could combine their unique skillsets to create a new field of study. It was a true interdisciplinary endeavor.

Davis, who was attending the conference, was asked if he thought the field he helped found would be as groundbreaking as it has been. He said they knew it was going to resonate, because otherwise, why bother?

And it has resonated. Starting with 18 graduate students registered for the first MIS classes in 1968, the program currently has 378 undergraduates enrolled as majors and 88 as minors. A spin-off program launched in 2014, Master of Science in Business Analytics, has grown from 24 students in the inaugural class to 97 this year.

On the academic research side, 132 PhDs have graduated from MIS since 1971. In terms of research productivity, the Carlson School is leading the pack. According to “In Search of the Primary Suppliers of IS Research: Who Are They and Where Did They Come From,” published in Communications of the Association for Information Systems, the Carlson School has more average publications per graduate and per faculty/staff member than any other comparable school.

“I am happy to report that the state of the program is extremely healthy, we have significant presence in every major program the school offers, and the footprint is expanding,” Gupta said.

Fall 2018 alumni magazine cover

This article appeared in the Fall 2018 alumni magazine

Collaboration is key to success in nearly any setting. In this issue, we explore partnerships the Carlson School has forged with other colleges and programs that make the University of Minnesota stronger.

Fall 2018 table of contents