Insurance presented the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with the largest
donation in the university’s 122-year history today. The gift of $4 million
will endow two new faculty positions and create a new major in data analytics.
The gift is
the largest single donation Sentry has ever made to any organization.
“This is more
than an incredibly generous gift,” said UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie
Patterson. “It is an investment in the future of the university and our
community, and a vote of confidence in how UW-Stevens Point is preparing
students for changing needs in the business world.”
A new undergraduate
major in data analytics will be offered, beginning in fall 2016, pending UW
Board of Regents approval. The program will feature an
interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates the fields of business, computer science,
economics, geographic information systems, mathematics and statistics.
availability of data as well as the technology to imaginatively use the data
has been growing exponentially in recent years,” said Pete McPartland, chairman of the board, president and
CEO of Sentry Insurance. "Employers have not been able to train
data analytics professionals fast enough to keep pace with the growing demand.
Sentry's commitment to helping fund the creation of a data analytics program at
UW-Stevens Point will help employers benefit from the rapidly changing world of
data availability and usage."
The Sentry gift endows
two faculty positions. The Sentry Insurance Endowed Chair in Computational Analytics
will be part of the Computing and New Media Technologies Department. The Sentry
Insurance Endowed Chair in Business Analytics will be part of the School of
Business and Economics. Sentry
needs employees with both of these business and computational analytics skills.
“Being able to analyze data and make decisions based on
data is a competitive advantage in the short-term. Soon, businesses will have to do it to thrive,” said Tim Krause, associate
professor and department chair, Computing
and New Media Technologies.
Interviews with local employers from retail, manufacturing,
health care, agriculture, insurance and software development industries in 2015
revealed a growing data analytics talent gap in the region. Employers indicated
they need significantly more employees with the ability to analyze datasets,
interpret observations, develop hypotheses, communicate findings and facilitate
organizational action, said Lyna Matesi, assistant professor of management.
involves acquiring and storing data, validating it, mining and analyzing data,
visualizing data and disseminating it. Business analytics includes
econometrics, computational finance, decision sciences and marketing analytics.
UW-Stevens Point have a long history in this community, Patterson noted, with both
founded more than 100 years ago. Sentry also has a long history of supporting the
university. The $4 million gift more than doubles Sentry Insurance’s support to
UW-Stevens Point since 1985.
proceeds will support activities such as collaborative research, outreach and
related student-faculty activities of the chair. National searches for
analytics experts will begin immediately.
commitment is a cornerstone
gift of the quiet phase of UW-Stevens Point capital campaign, which is
scheduled for a public announcement this spring.