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Changing with technology

| Gretchen Hutterli, Callie Larrabee

A business degree can open the door to careers in virtually any industry—manufacturing, retailing, health care, government, nonprofits, and education—and it can also be used to help you start your own business.

Let’s talk a bit about education . . .

Did you know that 72 UW-Eau Claire College of Business alums currently work on our campus? Our alums work on campus in a variety of positions. They are teachers, advisors, coaches, and even a choreographer. You can find COB alums recruiting new students to campus, and managing the university’s buildings, finances, student records, and information technology. Some run departments and keep our buildings clean. Others have been given the important task of keeping our campus safe.

In honor of the college’s 50th Anniversary, we profiled three of our campus alums. This third article features Chip Eckardt, chief information officer for UW-Eau Claire.

Chip Eckardt

Chip Eckardt
Major: Management Information Systems  

When Chip Eckardt arrived on the Eau Claire campus as a student in the ‘70s, data was entered into large mainframe computers using punch cards. COBAL and other programming languages that read this data were not “user friendly”. Electronic pocket sized personal calculators had just come on the market (but very few students had them as they were so expensive.) The IBM Correcting Selectric II typewriter was “the typewriter” to own as it eliminated the need for “white out” to cover errors.  

Eckardt remembers taking machine calculations, a keyboarding class where students learned how to type using IBM Selectrics and 10 key calculators. Grades were based in part on how many words per minute one could type.

“My professor tried and tried to get me to type with all ten fingers,” said Eckardt. “He said there was no way I could ever get to even 30 words a minute unless I used all my fingers. He said he would give me a passing grade if I could do that. I managed it—with 2 fingers.”  

In MIS professor Bill Korn’s COBAL programming and database management classes, Eckardt learned perseverance and how to look at a problem logically using a flow chart, a visually roadmap that identifies the sequence of steps and decisions used to outline a process or solve a problem. At a time when IBM dominated the computer industry, Korn opened Eckardt’s eyes to the fact that a Macintosh computer could be useful under the right circumstances.

From Dr. Bill Mitchell, chair of the Department of Information Systems and Office Administration, Eckardt learned the importance of effective communications. Mitchell also made learning fun.  

“Once Bill handed me his watch to time him on something in front of the class,” he continued. “He had a very expensive watch so I took my cheap Timex watch and dropped it on the floor. For about a half second I was not sure if Bill was going to kill me.”

Eckardt has great memories of Dr. Roger Selin as well as professors in other colleges. 

“When I think of all the professors who helped me grow, both intellectually and as a person, I am so glad I went to UW-Eau Claire.”