Diane M. Strong, professor in the Foisie Business School at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), received the 2017 Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize during the university’s 149th Commencement exercises today.
The prize, in the amount of $10,000, recognizes WPI faculty members who excel in all relevant areas of faculty performance, including teaching, research and scholarship, and advising. The tradition of awarding the prize was established in 2007 through the personal philanthropy of Donald K. Peterson '71, then chairman of the WPI Board of Trustees. It was continued this year by current board chairman Jack T. Mollen. Peterson was also recognized this year at Commencement, with an honorary doctorate in engineering.
Strong, who joined the WPI faculty in 1995, has conducted pioneering research that helped inaugurate three distinct areas within the field of management information systems (MIS). In the 1990s, she helped found the study of data quality, which involves the development of rigorous approaches to assessing, controlling, and assuring the reliability and usability of data. Several of her early papers, published in top-ranked journals, are now considered classics, with one having garnered nearly 3,000 citations.
In the late 1990s, her focus shifted to another emerging discipline, enterprise systems research, which studies the large-scale information systems that corporations and organizations deploy to integrate their business functions. In one groundbreaking study, supported by a five-year, $300,000 award from the National Science Foundation (one of several significant awards she has received from government agencies, organizations, and corporations), she led a team that observed the implementation of an enterprise resource planning system at aerospace giant Pratt & Whitney, one of the largest such conversions ever attempted.
Most recently, she has turned her attention to the challenges and benefits of technology in healthcare. With support from several federal agencies, she has investigated the challenges that can hinder the implementation of medical records systems and developed smartphone applications that marry innovative technology and evidence-based medicine to help patients work with their providers to better manage their healthcare. Her interest in this field led her to spearhead the development of WPI’s Healthcare Delivery Institute.
Beyond her achievements as a researcher, which earned her WPI’s 2014 Board of Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship, Strong has been recognized as an outstanding teacher and a leader in efforts to continually renew WPI’s MIS curriculum. A sought-after advisor of students, undergraduate project teams, and graduate researchers, she is also noted for her devotion to mentoring young faculty members. Her long record of service to her profession includes holding leadership positions in the Association for Information Systems, organizing major conferences, and serving frequently as an invited speaker and panelist.
Strong earned a BS in computer science and mathematics from the University of South Dakota in 1974, an MS in computer and information science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1978, and an MS in systems sciences (1983) and a PhD in information systems (1988) from Carnegie Mellon University. Before joining WPI, she was an assistant professor of management information systems in the School of Management at Boston University.