For Harrisburg University, its first endowed chair heightens the university’s intellectual power and extends its community reach.liebowitz_smaller

For the holder of the chair, eminent knowledge management pioneer Dr. Jay Liebowitz, the post is an opportunity to “provide some additional insight and leverage the resources that come with an endowed chair to further the mission of the university.”

Beginning August 2014, Liebowitz is the inaugural holder of The DiSanto Endowed Chair in Applied Business and Finance, funded by the generous contributions of Triple Crown Corporation founder Alex DiSanto. Dr. Liebowitz will focus on financial literacy education and develop learning opportunities for students and all Central Pennsylvanians about the interplay between financial systems, legal systems, industry economics, governments and organizations.

Endowed chairs invigorate the intellectual life of a university, attracting top faculty interested in working with leaders in their fields and students eager to learn from the best minds in the business, says HU President Eric Darr.

“Harrisburg is home to sophisticated businesses, government offices, and nonprofits,” says Darr. “For HU to attract a foremost scholar in knowledge management is a boon for all of these sectors and for the entire region. Dr. Liebowitz has the energy and capabilities to take a leadership role in convening the brightest minds in central Pennsylvania, further cementing HU’s place as a birthplace of innovation.”

Liebowitz offers HU a wealth of practical and intellectual expertise in knowledge management, business, finance, analytics, intelligent systems, and IT management. He most recently served as the Orkand Endowed Chair of Management and Technology in the Graduate School at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). Ranked as one of the world’s top knowledge management researchers and practitioners, he has been a full professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School and was the first Knowledge Management Officer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He is also a Fulbright Scholar, and was the IACIS Computer Educator of the Year.

As an endowed chair, untethered from any particular department, Liebowitz believes he can “contribute to the intellectual community” at HU.

“I’m hoping to serve as a catalyst across the different talents in the university,” says Liebowitz. “You typically get innovation from the relationships you set up outside your own area. I’m a big believer in cross-collaboration. That leads to new ideas and creativity.”

Many of Liebowitz’s responsibilities in the new post focus on financial literacy, a key factor in the success of graduates by helping them pay off college debt and launch their own businesses. In addition to teaching in the executive education program and in such subjects as applied artificial intelligence or knowledge management, Liebowitz will be engaged in:

– Organizing a speakers’ series to introduce students, faculty and community members to top minds in finance, business and ethics. Three speakers recruited for fall 2014 will address “the macro view” from the perspective of education, investments and stock markets, and market regulation. In spring 2015, the series will go to the micro level, bringing in bankers, lawyers, or other professionals to discuss practical business and personal finance.

– Using HU’s technology resources to amplify financial literacy education – perhaps capturing “video nuggets” from business leaders worldwide to incorporate into the curriculum, or developing an investing game that instills financial concepts by walking students through a trading floor in HU’s virtual reality orb, the Virtusphere.

– Helping HU faculty develop “capstone projects,” the multi-faceted culminating projects that seniors conduct to demonstrate mastery of their subjects. At Johns Hopkins, Liebowitz directed the MS-IT capstone program that connected students with more than 30 top industry, government, and not-for-profit organizations. Practical experience that reinforces classroom studies – a hallmark of HU learning — helps students build marketable resumes and learn such crucial soft skills as communications and team-building, he says.

Liebowitz served as a founding faculty member for James Madison University’s College of Integrated Science and Technology at its creation in the early 1990s, and at UMUC, he helped foster research and scholarship activities to complement UMUC’s core teaching mission, which targets underrepresented groups. Both experiences relate directly to HU, a school that opened its doors in 2005 and now enrolls a student body that’s half women and half minorities.

HU is well-positioned for continued success, with its downtown Harrisburg location, Philadelphia campus, and outreach to Baltimore, Liebowitz says. The Rockville, Maryland, resident has ties to Pennsylvania, including one year on loan to the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle as Chair of Artificial Intelligence and connections to Hershey’s. His wife, Janet, is a lawyer by profession and has taught at Montgomery College in Montgomery County, Maryland, for almost 30 years. Their two sons, Jason and Kenny, are starting careers as a doctor and a lawyer, respectively.

Though his plate is piled high with self-imposed tasks to accomplish during his year as the DiSanto endowed chair, Liebowitz says he has always tried to “set higher goals and see if I can achieve most of them.”

Liebowitz is looking forward to the wonderful opportunities at HU and contributing towards increasing the national visibility of the institution.