MIS Department History

MIS Department History


Jay F. Nunamaker, Jr. founded the Management Information Systems (MIS) department at the University of Arizona. The world's first information systems curriculum was developed in partnership with the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and other schools.


In 1985 the Center for the Management of Information (CMI) opened. Under the direction of Jay F. Nunamaker, CMI became a world leader in the research and development of collaboration processes and technologies. Two years later, the Executive Decision Center opened as a state-of-the-art facility to facilitate group focus and open exchange.

Collaborative technology developed in the CMI was the foundation for the technology spin off Ventana Corporation, later known as GroupSystems.

Multi-million dollar grants from NSF and NCR allowed the MIS department to establish the first three student computer labs on the UA campus.

Rankings Highlights:

  • #2 in ComputerWorld’s inaugural national ranking of MIS programs
  • #3—U.S. News and World Report begins ranking MIS programs, 1989


In 1990 Hsinchun Chen founded the Artificial Intelligence Lab, the first AI Lab in a business school. It became an internationally renowned lab in information systems, digital library, biomedical informatics, security informatics, and business intelligence.

The MIS Board of Advisors was established to build a coalition between the department and the corporate community for the purpose of increasing collaboration and communication.

Jay F. Nunamaker was appointed and inducted as a Regent’s Professor by the Arizona Board of Regents.

In 1994 the Advanced Database Research Group (ADRG) lab opened under the direction of Sudha Ram. The lab focused on semantic interoperability, heterogeneous database integration, distributed database design, semantic modeling in domains including bioinformatics, and business Rules modeling for Supply Chain Management. Lab staff also examined modeling of temporal and spatial databases.

In 1997 Hsinchun Chen and the Tucson Police Department received the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) award to develop the COPLINK system. The system assisted in cross-jurisdictional information sharing, analysis, visualization and research for the law enforcement and intelligence community for border and national security.

Rankings Highlights:

  • Recognition by Decision Line as the top international program for MIS research productivity
  • #2 in Database magazine’s “Top Institutional Representation in MIS Literature” over the last decade
  • Top five for both undergraduate and master's programs in U.S. News and World Report 


2000 - The Mark and Susan Hoffman E-Commerce Lab opened under the direction of Hsinchun Chen. It is one of the best enterprise computing environments in a business school.

2000 - Dr. Chen founded the Knowledge Computing Corporation, a UA spin-off company that commercializes the COPLINK system. KCC has become one of the largest law enforcement information sharing and data mining systems in US and has been adopted in more than 1,600 agencies. In Fall 2011 Dr. Chen's spinoff was acquired by IBM for $500 million.

2008 - National Center for Border Security and Immigration opens. Jay Nunamaker co-leads a team of research Universities and receives $15 million over six years. BORDERS is a consortium of 14 premier institutions that is dedicated to the development of innovative technologies, proficient processes, and effective policies that will help protect our Nation’s borders, foster international trade, and enhance long-term understanding of immigration determinants and dynamics.

2009 - The Dark Web Research Center, part of the AI Lab, opens. It is funded by a multi-million dollar NSF grant. The lab mission is a long-term scientific research program that aims to study and understand the international terrorism (Jihadist) phenomena via a computational, data-centric approach.

2009 - National Center for Border Security and Immigration (BORDERS) opens. A multi-million dollar, multi-university research center whose research will be led by Jay F. Nunamaker Jr., the center will focus on new technologies such as surveillance, screening, data fusion and situational awareness using sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles and other technologies. The center also will provide research on population dynamics, immigration administration and enforcement, operational analysis, control and communications, immigration policy, civic integration and citizenship, border risk management and international governance.

2009 - iPlant Collaborative grant received. Funded by a $50 million NSF grant, it was one of the largest NSF grants ever awarded to an Arizona entity. Principal project personnel included Drs. Sudha Ram (as Co Principal Investigator and Cyberinfrastructure Development, Integrated Solutions Team co-leader) and Sue Brown as Social Networking lead. The project entailed a global center and computer cyberinfrastructure within which to answer plant biology's grand challenge questions, which no single research entity in the world had the capacity to address. The project, later renamed CyVerse, unites plant scientists, computer scientists and information scientists from around the world to provide answers to questions of global importance and advance all of these fields.

2009 - The Information Assurance and Security Education Center (IASEC) opens. The goal of this center is to help reduce vulnerability in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in information assurance. The center was approved by the National Information Assurance Education and Training Program under the authority of the U.S. National Security Agency.

Rankings Highlights:

  • #1 in Top Performing Individual Programs by Academic Analytics
  • #1 in Research Productivity by Decision Line Survey
  • #1 in Faculty's Scholarly Productivity by The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Top five for both undergraduate and master's programs in U.S. News and World Report 
  • #9 globally in information technology specialty category by Financial Times
  • Rated "Exceptional" by UA Graduate Council
  • Top 25 Techno-MBA by ComputerWorld magazine for MIS/MBA joint degree program


2011 - INSITE (Business Intelligence and Analytics Center) is formed.

2012 - McKeever Lab and MIS Commons dedicated.

2013 - (1) Dr. Hsinchun Chen Appointed and Inducted as UA Regent's Professor. (2)  Dr. Hsinchun Chen Named UA's 2013 Innovator of the Year. (3) Dr. Hsinchun Chen Named the Thomas R. Brown Endowed Chair in Management and Technology. (4) Sudha Ram Named Anheuser-Busch Endowed Chair.

Department receives $5.4M cybersecurity and big data grants.

2014 - (1) MIS Celebrates its 40th Anniversary with a two day celebration. (2) Dr. Hsinchun Chen named NSF Lead Program Director of the NSF (National Science Foundation) Smart and Connected Health (SCH) Program. (3) MIS initiates and leads the process for the university to become a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CD) to 2021, as cited by the National Information Assurance Education and Training Program (NIETP) office under the authority of the U.S. National Security Agency. This designation is held at the University of Arizona level.

2016 - MIS Department head—Dr. Paulo Goes—becomes Eller College's ninth dean. Read about his appointment here. MIS Professor Dr. Sue Brown becomes the permanent department head.

2017 - (1) MIS initiates and leads the process for the university to become a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through 2022. This designation is held at the University of Arizona level. (2) Dr. Sudha Ram is awarded $1.7M grant for Digital Archaeology Project to Use Big Data. (3) Launch of the online Master’s in Cybersecurity program. The curriculum draws from the MIS program as well as the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Systems and Industrial Engineering programs.

2018 (1) Launch of the Master of Science in Business Analytics program. (2) Dr. Hsinchun Chen’s Artificial Intelligence Lab celebrates 30th anniversary.

2019 - The Advanced Zipperman Associates program begins. Building on the success of the Zipperman Scholars program, the AZA program aims to prepare students for careers in tech consulting. 


2020 - (1) Professors Jay Nunamaker and Joseph Valacich win the Best Paper Award for 2019 by the Journal of the Association for Information Systems for their contribution to the paper titled “Sleight of Hand: Identifying Concealed Information by Monitoring Mouse-Cursor Movements.” (2) Dr. Hsinchun Chen and his wife Dr. Hsiao-Hui (Sherry) Chow, research professor of medicine at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, establish the Chen-Chow Bear Down Scholarship with the goal of engaging underrepresented students from Native Nations in Eller and MIS.

2021 (1) Professor Gondy Leroy is awarded two grants: one for $1.4 million from the National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health to study how to use audio for health information and another for $1.5 million from the National Institute of Mental Health to support autism spectrum disorder diagnoses. (2) Professor Joe Valacich and University of Arizona alumnus Jeff Jenkins receive the 2021 AIS Impact Award for their work on Neuro-ID Behavioral Analytics.

Rankings Highlights:

  • Continued placement in top five for both undergraduate and master's programs in U.S. News and World Report  
  • Online Master’s in MIS and Online Master’s in Cybersecurity: #2 public and #5 overall in U.S. News & World Report (2022) 
  • Master’s in Business Analytics: #10 public and #21 overall in U.S. News & World Report (2022)