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Shoshana Altschuller, Ph.D.: New Role and Renewed Energy

Shoshana S. Altschuller, Ph.D., views change as opportunity. A professor in the Information Systems and Business Analytics Department for fourteen years, she has recently embraced a new role — transitioning from department chair to senior associate dean for Faculty Affairs at the LaPenta School of Business — and has seen a renewed energy at Iona.

ON HER ROLE AS SENIOR ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR FACULTY AFFAIRS:

I am very honored and excited to be starting my new role as senior associate dean for Faculty Affairs at the LaPenta School of Business. Although the last year has been a very challenging one, I believe it has jump-started a renewed innovative energy among faculty, and I’m enthusiastic about being a part of that transformation. I am proud to be part of a faculty that has risen to these extreme circumstances, and I look forward to helping facilitate continued success.

ON HER PARTICIPATION ON THE STRATEGIC INNOVATION COMMITTEE:

As the world was being jolted by the COVID-19 pandemic, our directive was to help think critically about how Iona could position itself to strengthen its mission even through the dramatic changes to the world and higher education. Our subgroup focused on opportunities related to faculty and how we could embrace the changes we face rather than overcoming them.

In our vision, Iona develops a center that is a hub for research, conversation, and technology resources where faculty can explore, experiment, and engage more richly and genuinely with our students and community. I am optimistic about the concept taking root and growing along with our faculty.

ON HER PASSION FOR INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND BUSINESS ANALYTICS:

I’m passionate about information systems because of their revolutionary nature. People often assume that information systems are just about doing the things we’ve always done, only faster and more conveniently. The truth is that digital formats actually allow us to break out of physical constraints and accomplish things in ways they have never been done before.

ON HER RESEARCH:

My research has focused on how different features of communication and collaboration technology impact the way that groups work together in a team. In the last year, this could not have been more relevant! One of my significant findings was that a system that portrays too much personal information about the members of a newly formed virtual team (such as a bedroom or living room background in a Zoom meeting) could impede their ability to trust each other. So, our obsession for virtual backgrounds in Zoom might actually help people work together better!

ON MEMORABLE MOMENTS AT IONA:

The most meaningful moments for me always remain those that remind me of the difference that we, as faculty, can make for individuals. The nod of thanks for an interesting class or a helpful piece of advice, the look of relief when a problem has been resolved, the palpable inspiration of a student who shares your interest, the enthusiastic email from a student who got the job you referred them to or alumni who excelled at work because of a skill you taught them…those are the moments I treasure most.

ON HOW SHE MANAGED THROUGH THE PANDEMIC:

During the severest lockdowns, I made sure to collect my family members from their various makeshift offices and laptop classrooms to get out and go for a walk. The beautiful sunsets we saw on those walks were a welcome contrast to our new “on-screen” lives. But what was most impactful to me was seeing other people and families taking comfort in those same sunsets and knowing what they, too, were taking a break from. Never have I had such a strong sense of commonality with my neighbors, my coworkers, my students. I believe that despite the physical distance from my students and colleagues, the connection of a circumstance shared so strongly across the world truly helps us all understand each other better during these times.

ON HOBBIES:

I love to spend time outdoors hiking or bicycle riding, and I’m always documenting the experiences by taking too many pictures! Students might not know that I like to write haiku. I once even won a free dinner for winning a haiku contest

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