Don Center director Gita Surie, PhD, is establishing the center as a knowledge hub and valuable resource for the University as a whole through programs that focus on innovative technologies and decision sciences.
The Elizabeth and Allen Don Center for Innovative Technology and Decision Sciences fosters innovations at the intersection of technology and interdisciplinary decision sciences—and enriches the educational experience of students with a thoughtfully curated calendar of events.
“It’s a free resource, open to anyone,” said Gita Surie, PhD, professor of management and director of the Don Center, which was established by the late Robert B. Willumstad School of Business Professor Allen Don, PhD, and his wife. “We like to see it as a way of connecting Adelphi students and faculty with industry. It’s a pathway for students, as companies can take them on as interns or employees. At the same time, it’s a way for faculty researchers and experts to share their expertise with companies—and for companies to keep faculty and students aware of what’s going on, so they can better prepare students for career success.”
As a member of the Center’s advisory board from 2014 to 2017, Dr. Surie had helped to develop a vision and mandate for the new center before assuming its directorship in 2018. That year, the center hosted a talk by Osman Ahmed, PhD, the principal technical adviser at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The following year, it presented a panel discussion on “Achieving Business Impact with Data Analytics: Opportunities and Challenges.”
A Valuable Online Resource
“Everything since 2020 has been all virtual, which has worked out even better,” Dr. Surie said, noting how the center can tap into alumni, senior executives and industry leaders from as far afield as North Carolina and India for events, lectures and panel discussions, rather than relying on speakers in close proximity to Adelphi.
The virtual format, according to Dr. Surie, also makes it convenient for anyone to attend the event. Virtual Don Center events are recorded and made available on YouTube, where faculty, students and businesspeople—from industry panelists to members of local chambers of commerce and business associations—can readily access them.
Since spring 2021, the Don Center’s virtual events have been coordinated with the help of Stephen Davy, MBA ’88, member of the Don Center advisory board and an executive in residence from spring 2021 to spring 2022. These events were also supported by the Don Center’s advisory board members, who suggested speakers and, in some cases, joined as panelists.
Recently, Willumstad’s master’s degree programs in supply chain management and business analytics have been supported by virtual discussions featuring expert panelists keen to share their knowledge and industry perspectives at events on everything from “Supply Chain 4.0” and “The Digital Transformation of Business in the Post-Pandemic Era” to “Deploying AI and IoT Technologies for Business Success.” Timely panel discussions covering “The Future of Work and the Workplace” and “Demystifying Blockchain” have been equally successful and well received.
“We’re interested in anything that leads to cutting-edge innovation,” Dr. Surie said. Alumni often take part or suggest colleagues who might be willing to share their expertise. “We’ve found that students especially like alumni, as they can see themselves in their place and feel comfortable engaging with them in Q&A sessions or networking with them.”
A Knowledge Hub
The Don Center’s 15-member advisory board is composed of alumni and professionals who have worked at companies such as Macy’s, Amazon and Estée Lauder. The board provides guidance on anything to do with the center, offering topics and speakers to consider for events, information for students, and more.
“The center is a work in progress for all of us, but we are heading towards our ultimate vision of being a knowledge hub—or Long Island think tank—and a valuable resource for the University as a whole,” Dr. Surie said. “It’s always gratifying to have these events, and it’s exciting to bring topics that interest different departments and that help keep Adelphi at the cutting edge.”
This fall’s proposed events—“Managing Risk to Enable Supply Chain Agility and Resilience” and “Transforming Customer Relationships and the Customer Experience Through Technology”—will certainly do just that.