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Morken Center will prepare for careers combining science and business

By Greg Brewis

Collaboration between business and computer science faculty and students in the Morken Center has the potential to broaden the experiences and enhance the career prospects of those studying there. And the success of some recent graduates and current students points the way.

“Trade school grads might be hired for their expertise as network engineers. In five or 10 years they will still be network engineers,” said Jim Clapper, dean of the School of Business. “In 10 years the PLU graduate with a major in computer science and a minor in business will be running the network engineering group and could well have moved into upper management."

Clapper says the Morken Center could facilitate the preparation for a lifetime of success. Ken Blaha, chairman of computer science and computer engineering, agrees.

“Working together in the Morken Center should enable us to provide new opportunities for students,” he said.

“Business majors might take electives in information technology or database maintenance or even a minor in computer science that will enhance their technical expertise.

“Computer science majors might broaden their understanding of and competence in managerial issues and expand their career options by studying business,” Blaha said.

And students also will have gained a broader view and preparation by studying the liberal arts.

The potential that Clapper and Blaha describe is clearly evident in the work of some recent graduates and current students.

Bradley Thonney ’04 began his undergraduate career at PLU majoring in computer science but soon discovered a passion for working with people and switched majors. He graduated with a business degree and a minor in computer science. His experiences as an undergraduate sparked an interest in law, and he is now in his first year at Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City.

“When I’m practicing corporate law, it’s inevitable that I’ll have cases that involve both business methods and computer hardware and software systems,” he said.

“My business and computer science background will give me a depth of understanding both in management and in how computer systems work, making me a better attorney.”

Erik Voss ’05 also began as a computer science major and switched to business with a computer science minor. In January he will begin working for a medical equipment supply company, selling a computer-based orthopedic device and working as an operating room technician, helping surgeons run the equipment.

“I’m excited to combine my business education with my knowledge of computers. I’ll have a career that will allow me to prove my full abilities,” Voss said.

Currently studying for a major in computer science and a minor in business, Jae-Jin Lee ’07 expects similar success.

“I decided to take a business 201 class just for the experience and I really liked it,” Lee said. “Computer science and business are quite different subjects. Computer science and math are left brain, calculating. Business is right brain, all verbal. It’s cool how different they are.”

“I’m learning that to be successful I need more than just the skills to get a job as a programmer. If I put business with it the opportunities are unlimited. Most people don’t understand that,” he said.

Lee plans to continue to focus on both computer science and business studies at PLU and in graduate school. Then he hopes to establish his own business, providing new applications in wireless network technologies.

Scheduled for occupancy in January, the Morken Center will be the home for the School of Business, the Department of Mathematics, and the Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering.

Also located there will be the local chapter of a state program, MESA, which works to support traditionally under represented students in achieving and contributing their full potential in mathematics, engineering and science.

A formal dedication ceremony for the building will be held in May.


Religion professor Samuel Torvend was named the Edgar and Margaret Schick Fellow in Religion and Public Life by the Luther Institute in Washington, D.C. The $10,000 fellowships are awarded to faculty working on projects related to faith and public life. Torvend will research and write a book on the origins of Lutheran responses to poverty and hunger.

Norwegian and Scandinavian studies professor Claudia Berguson will publish “Questions of Narrative Authority and Authenticity in Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter” in the December issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Literary Research.

Professor of music Greg Youtz’s “The Singer of Wind and Rain: Five Palestinian Lyrics” made its United Kingdom premiere at a concert in London in November. The concert was in memory of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American peace activist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer as she protested the demolition of a Palestinian house. The piece premiered in the U.S. last spring.

Chris Ferguson was named associate provost for Academic and Information Services in August. Ferguson, who was dean of Information and Technology Services, will continue to provide leadership in that area. In addition, he will provide leadership in academic support services, faculty support services, some areas of the Office of the Provost, and general administration.

Business professor David E. McNabb wrote “Public Utilities Management for the 21st Century,” a guide to better train managers in the area of public utilities. The text is designed as a supplementary text for graduate students in economics, business administration and public administration.

As chair of the Norwegian American Foundation, PLU President Loren Anderson, along with Kim Nesselquist ’83, CEO and executive director of NAF, and Walter Mondale, former vice president of the United States and member of NAF, presented a bronze statue of the King of Norway’s mother, Crown Princess Martha, to the King and his sisters at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Sept. 18.

Assistant professor of anthropology Jennifer Hasty published “The Press and Political Culture in Ghana” in July. The book looks at the practices of journalism and newsmaking at privately owned and state-operated daily newspapers in Ghana.

Professor of geosciences Duncan Foley, assistant professor of geosciences and environmental studies Rose McKenney, along with student Ben Kortlever, presented on geological topics at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in October.



© Scene 2005  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Winter 2005

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