From the April, 1998 PC ALAMODE Magazine:
Degrees for the 21st Century 
by David G. Zolzer,
Director Electronic Commerce Program 
Our Lady of the Lake University 

Every time you pick up a newspaper or a technical journal today you read about Electronic Commerce. Electronic Commerce has a major impact on our lives today and will have more of an impact in the future.

 So what is Electronic Commerce and how do we prepare for this revolution? Electronic Commerce is the environment in which the information for buying, selling and transporting goods and services moves electronically. 

Students at Our Lady of the Lake University meet this growing revolution head-on in the new Electronic Commerce degree program. They acquire the business and technical know-how to tackle this latest business revolution. In 1993 Our Lady of the Lake University became a partner in what is now the Electronic Commerce Resource Center (ECRC). The ECRC provides training, consulting and technical support to small businesses to help them prepare to do business electronically. As a result of this partnership, the Lake applied for and received a grant from the Department of Education to develop a degree program in Electronic Commerce. The Electronic Commerce program offers both a Bachelors of Business Administration or a Bachelor of Science degree preparing the students with a mixture of business, computer information systems, and electronic commerce courses. This is one of the first programs of its kind in the United States.

 Since Electronic Commerce involves business and technical skills, our students require the basic business courses in accounting, economics, and management. In addition, the students receive extensive training in programming, hardware and software architecture, and systems analysis and design. This lays the foundation in information technology necessary for the student to succeed. The Electronic Commerce component of the program heavily emphasizes the telecommunication infrastructure and networking. Electronic Commerce applications like Electronic Data Interchange, Electronic Funds Transfer, and Internet programming are also emphasized. Our goal is to prepare the student with the skills necessary to step right in and help a company with their Electronic Commerce requirements without a lot of additional training. 

One way we meet this goal is through our intern program. We have developed relationships with several companies, including USAA, Southwestern Bell, and the ECRC to place our students in Electronic Commerce related jobs. This has enriched the learning experience and provided the students with valuable experience. Businesses in San Antonio are excited about the new program. Neal Sharp, associate director of strategic planning at SBC Communications Inc. already sees a high demand for people with skills in Electronic Commerce and believes this trend will continue. "Electronic Commerce is a growing industry that involves technology such as the Internet, interactive TV and other tools that didn't even exist ten years ago," he stated. "We will work with the University staff and faculty to determine where technology and business is today and where it's going so the Lake graduates will gain the skills to be employed in this day and age." 

Clyde Tew, Electronic Commerce consultant for USAA believes Electronic Commerce will be a necessity when conducting business in the future. "Imagine how it would be today if we had to conduct business without a telephone," he said. Electronic Commerce will become another essential tool to accomplish business goals. 

The Lake is also establishing the Electronic Commerce Technical Center (ECTC) to help support the program. The mission of the ECTC will be to provide real world experiences to our students by assisting small businesses in developing their Electronic Commerce capabilities. Both business owners and students will gain from knowledge and hands-on experience. We are proud of our new program and the almost fifty students majoring in Electronic Commerce. 

Our first Electronic Commerce graduate, Ester Gonzalez, is excited about her opportunities as she prepares to enter the work force in May. She plans to stay in San Antonio and would like to work with a growing company expanding into Electronic Commerce. I believe the future of the program is strong. As we learn from our experiences, we will continue to improve the program and provide the skills for our students to be successful.

 David G. Zolzer is an Associate Professor and Director of the Electronic Commerce at Our Lady of the Lake University. He has over thirty years of experience in information technology and is interested in Electronic Commerce applications and web-based training programs. He can be contacted at 431-3990 or by e-mail zolzd@lake.ollusa.edu.