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Catawba College receives $900,000 gift

SALISBURY – Catawba College has received a $900,000 anonymous gift to add courses in computer science and begin programs in information systems and data analysis in its department of mathematics and computer science.

The gift, according to an announcement by Provost Constance Rogers-Lowery, is designed to address students’ needs in growing fields and is part of Catawba’s “Mind Body Soul” fundraising campaign.  

With a renewed emphasis on technology, the department will move into the Ketner School of Business when the fall semester begins. 

Doug Brown, a mathematics professor at Catawba for 11 years, has been appointed chairman of the School of Mathematics and Computer Science. Eric Hake, with nine years of experience at Catawba, was earlier named dean of the Ketner School of Business. 

The new emphasis will initially add two faculty positions, a professor of computer science and a professor of data analysis. The college will offer a minor in data analysis, potentially leading to a bachelor of science degree in data analysis, according to Brown. The college will also offer a bachelor of science degree in information systems technology.

The new degrees will be offered in both the day and evening online programs.

The gift will also be used to upgrade and expand the computer lab at the School of Business, which is undergoing a major renovation that is expected to be complete by the beginning of the 2020 spring semester.

The new direction will prepare Catawba’s business students for successful employment, Hake said.

“With the critical thinking skills that a liberal arts education offers, combined with the technical skills needed to navigate today’s ever-changing business climate, Catawba students will be sought after in the job market,” Hake said.  “Jobs in computer science, data analytics and information systems are top recruitment areas.”  

Brown said the field of data analytics is important in almost every field, including business, health care, psychology, social sciences and biology.

“By offering a minor in data analytics that can be paired with a major of choice, Catawba College will position its students to be highly competitive in their search for postgraduation employment,” Brown said.  “These students will also provide the Rowan County community with a workforce prepared to satisfy the analytical needs of current and future employers.”

The reorganization comes as the result of research prepared during the last academic year by Hanover Research. 

Lowery said the new emphasis will address growing opportunities in computer science and data analytics.

“The department of mathematics and computer science and the Ketner School of Business already work closely together. This will strengthen the connection,” she said. “Dr. Brown’s leadership in faculty committees has been extraordinary. I know that he will help move the department forward.”

Brown replaces Sharon Sullivan as department chair. Sullivan will continue as assistant provost for assessment and accreditation.

In addition to the new bachelor’s degrees in information systems and minor in data analytics, the School of Business offers the following degrees: bachelor of arts in accounting; bachelor of science in business administration; bachelor of business administration; bachelor of arts in communication; bachelor of arts in digital media production; bachelor of arts in economics and finance; and bachelor of arts in integrated marketing communication.

The existing degrees of mathematics and computer science will continue to be offered: bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in mathematics; bachelor of science in computer science; and bachelor of science in mathematical finance. 

The “Mind Body Soul” Campaign for Growth has a goal to raise $38.2 million to upgrade facilities and begin programs. The three-year campaign began in October 2018 and has raised $27.2 million to date.

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