Augustana College has received a $1.5 million grant from the John Deere Foundation to advance its data analytics program, which will develop workers to meet the growing demand for big data jobs.
The Rock Island college announced that the grant will establish the Robert A. Hanson Endowed Chair in Data Analytics. Hiring an established professor is seen as a critical step in creating a data analytics degree program.
“The growing importance of data analytics in making business decisions is becoming more widely recognized, and the John Deere Foundation is delighted to partner with Augustana on this exciting initiative,” said Mara Sovey Downing, the foundation’s president. “We believe this could be a game changer for the Quad-Cities community in providing skilled talent to fill this growing STEM-related need.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that employment in data analytics will grow by 30 percent by 2024. The demand for manager and analysts who can understand and make decisions using “big data” is estimated to reach 1.5 million by 2018.
Augustana faculty members Dr. Jon Clauss and Dr. John Delaney will continue to be involved in building the college’s program, with plans to introduce a minor and major in 2018 and 2020, respectively.
The endowed chair is named for Augustana graduate and former Deere CEO Robert Hanson, who died in May. A 1948 Augustana graduate, he had a 40-year career with Deere, including serving as CEO from 1982 to 1990. He and his wife, Patricia, made an $8 million gift in 2010 to name the Robert A. and Patricia K. Hanson Hall of Science.
Deere & Co. and its foundation also have been close partners to Augustana over the years, donating more than $3 million for various projects. The gifts have benefited the John Deere Planetarium, science facilities, the Tredway Library and Carlsson Evald Hall.
“This latest partnership with the John Deere Foundation will provide opportunities for hundreds of students well into the future,” said Steve Bahls, Augustana’s president.