IC Community Dedicates Innovative Analytics Labs

By Kyle Hornyak, September 30, 2019
Gift from School of Business alumnus John J. Neeson ’84 establishes lab spaces for students to hone business analytics and digital marketing skills.

Members of the Ithaca College community convened in the School of Business atrium on Friday, September 27, to celebrate the dedication of the Neeson Business Analytics Lab and the Neeson Digital Marketing and Analytics Lab. The ceremony capped off Professions Week 2019, during which students from all majors were invited to attend panel discussions, presentations, and networking events with industry professionals.

John J. Neeson ’84, leading marketing analytics expert and School of Business alumnus who generously funded the creation of the labs, was on-hand with his wife, Tracy, to officially dedicate the spaces alongside School of Business Dean Sean Reid and President Shirley M. Collado with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Dean Reid thanked John and Tracy for their transformational gift that will help School of Business students access and master the latest tools and technologies. “Students going out into the work force are expected to have these skills, and we continually hear back from employers who recruit our students that they are showing up career-ready,” Reid said. “So we’ve been doing an excellent job with that so far, and this analytics lab is going to be an even greater step in the next direction.”

people cutting a ribbon in a dedication ceremony

(From left) President Shirley M. Collado, Tracy Neeson, John J. Neeson ’84 and Dean Sean Reid cut the ribbon in a dedication ceremony on September 27. (Photo by Dave Burbank/Ithaca College)

President Collado expressed her appreciation to the Neesons for their profound commitment and generosity, and noted how John’s vision to realize an innovative analytics lab for the IC community aligns with the institution’s Ithaca Forever strategic plan designed to shape the future of Ithaca College. “As we have been saying throughout the strategic planning process — the students are our ‘why,’” said Collado. “We want to help facilitate their dreams, and it is this kind of thinking, this kind of transformative philanthropy around an idea that comes to life, that is really going to allow us to be distinct and powerful moving forward.”

John Neeson focused his remarks on the students who will be the first to access the lab’s resources. “My father told me, ‘If you want to control your career, create the opportunity,’ and these labs are an incredible opportunity,” shared Neeson. “Imagine your resume saying you know CRM, you know SalesForce.com, you’ve used Python, you know how to use analytics ... what you have here is incredible.”

Neeson closed by sharing his hopes that his contribution to the college will help current and future students on their career trajectories. “I hope that all of you have the journey that I’ve had in business and have the opportunity to give back to this school,” Neeson said. “Because this place is where I felt I really grew as a person, as an individual, and it has meant so much to me.”

“As students use customer relationship management, marketing automation, and account-based management software and obtain certifications, the analytics advisory network John is helping us to build will yield valuable internships and jobs.”

Scott Erickson, chair of the marketing department

The endowment to create the lab spaces was announced last March. IC’s Office of Facilities spent the spring and summer of 2019 fully upgrading a former classroom and a technology-free conference room into two robust laboratory spaces where students can access and learn about the latest analytics tools and technologies.

Along with supporting the creation of the lab spaces, Neeson’s gift also funds ongoing software updates and future upgrades to the spaces. Among the new resources available for students and faculty, the labs boast servers that house “big data” and to-the-minute analytics software previously unavailable to students and faculty, two large ticker displays for marketing analytics and stock market data, and two 55-inch digital displays that will be used to highlight notable alumni and School of Business programming.

classroom sign

(Photo by Giovanni Santacroce/Ithaca College)

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Department of Marketing professor and chair Scott Erickson, Department of Management professor and chair William J. Tastle, and School of Business students hosted an “open house”-style tour of the lab spaces to demonstrate their various features. 

“As students use customer relationship management, marketing automation, and account-based management software and obtain certifications, the analytics advisory network John is helping us to build will yield valuable internships and jobs,” shared Erickson. “The lab will also offer cutting edge analytical tools for marketing communications, including Salesforce's Social Studio and iMotion’s eye-tracking/facial scanning system. Students will be using all these tools in classes, in extra-curricular projects and competitions, and as an entry to further certifications and badges; all will enhance their learning and make them more attractive to potential employers.”

Fall 2019 sees the first wave of students to make use of the Neeson Business Analytics Lab and Neeson Digital Marketing and Analytics Lab.