Maintaining Community and Culture: University of Alabama

In the industry of Information Systems, it is important to identify and prepare for potential problems and to prepare for the future. Having an AIS student chapter recognizes a need for change that leads to the improvement of their organization is proof that the future of the IS industry is in good hands. No matter the size of the organization, AIS Students Chapter contribute to their communities, universities and the industry as a whole, even if it means carefully evaluating themselves before continuing their work for others.

One of the challenges for larger universities and AIS student chapters is maintaining a sense of community and organizational culture. However, the keen eye of a group of juniors at the University of Alabama AIS Student Chapter recognized the need to focus on this aspect of the chapter. Because the chapter is so large, with more than 400 members, and the MIS major continues to grow rapidly, there were concerns that these important and integral aspects of the chapter could go by the wayside.

To resolve this problem, the Information Technology Society (ITS) was founded as an extension of the AIS student chapter and a new affinity group focused on continuing, maintaining, and improving the MIS program’s culture and community. Throughout its first year, ITS implemented two events which were led by their executive board. The purpose of these new social events was to maintain the chapter’s strong community and provide opportunities for students to network with other students and faculty. “ITS has become an integral component of MIS students life on campus.  The group provides a means for students to connect with one another, to build deep relationships that assist them in classes, in class projects and develop into long-term professional networks,” said David Hale, MIS Program Director. “The group makes sure the newest students coming into the MIS major are welcomed and provide the opportunity to quickly bond with the existing members and alumni.”  This concern of integrating new members into the program is prevalent
during the “Meet the 295ers” event designed specifically for students to meet, converse, and network with upper-class UA-AIS members.  As their second event, the group hosted a competition style event called “MIS vs. Sales Relay for Life” between the UA-MIS and UA-Sales Programs in an effort to raise funds for the Relay for Life organization.

Since every member plays a vital role in the culture of an organization, it is important to maintain the sense of community. As current AU-AIS Student Chapter president, Josh Douglas says, “The ITS affinity group of the chapter has really offered the ability to keep the culture strong in our growing chapter. This is where ITS shines. It keeps the close-knit feel to the group while maintaining the “Work hard, play hard” motto.” Thanks to the insightful juniors who noticed the need to focus on the fundamentals, the sense of community and culture that ultimately makes up the basis of the AU-AIS student chapter will continue to improve as the chapter expands.