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CCSU Professors

Leslie LeongLeslie Leong:
Dynamic Learning

“Learning, like MIS, is always evolving,” asserts Dr. Leslie Leong, associate professor in the Management Information Systems Department who also teaches in the graduate Computer Information Technology interdisciplinary program. She exhorts her E-Business class, “You must be prepared to be adaptable and move forward.” With typical ebullience she draws the undergraduates in. “If you major in this dynamic field, you commit to being on top of each technological advance and to knowing how the technologies are useful to an organization. You’ll never be bored. You’ll be part of growing changes that touch people’s daily lives globally.”

Underscoring how modern technology has had a huge impact on the world, Leong invites the class to enter a ‘Smart House’ of the future. “Imagine it,” she exclaims, “using a mobile device, perhaps like this one (she holds up a slim Personal Digital Assistant), you’ll be able to turn on the hot tub and set its temperature, get the coffee brewing, switch the TV on to CNN, even before you step over the threshold. Of course, Bill Gates will need to solve security issues associated with mobile devices.”

It’s easy to understand why Raquib Chowdhury, a CCSU graduate in Computer Information Technology who returned this past spring to take Leong’s MIS graduate-level class, remarks, “Her knowledge and enthusiasm are infectious. She is a master communicator, always working hard to have students participate. She makes even an introvert like me interested in class activities.”

Leong grew up in Malaysia and, cultivating a keen sense of curiosity and adventure, immigrated to the U.S. in 1982. With some 20 years experience spanning business and academe, she tapped into the information technology boom of the mid-1990s. Leong became a seasoned practitioner by holding various positions in IT, such as manager of network infrastructure, MIS client administrator, operations analyst, and database administrator.

Through it all, she honed skills as a team player on massive projects requiring exquisite organizational expertise, and she learned the art of being a “master communicator.” “Information Systems made my juices start to flow. I loved the complexity of it, the puzzle of using and transferring, collecting and processing data. A critical role of IS is to act as a liaison or bridge between the ‘techies’ and business managers. It requires communication skills in technical as well as business language.”

She concluded that she wanted to take her technical “savvy and transfer that knowledge to students, help them with their careers.” Hired at CCSU in 2001, she says her goal was clear: “To help students become action-oriented professionals in the MIS field. My focus as a professor is to get students to see how they can translate concept and theory into workable solutions.”

Teaching Style: More Than Making the Grade

“Her concern for students’ success in class goes beyond just making the grade,” says Eric Davis, a senior English major, who applied her E-Business class knowledge to developing a website for the Hartford Girls Basketball team. Leong reflects, “I stress that grades do not mean much if you do not know how to utilize the subject matter in your educational work or career or lifetime experience.” Michael McKay, another senior, who first and foremost lauds Leong “as a great person,” praises the variety of assignments and fair grading. “Whether it’s a presentation on a selected topic, or a hands-on project, or writing a research report, she shows you how everything is scaled, points earned, and what grades are needed on future assignments/exams to get your desired results.”

Leong, twice an Excellence in Teaching award semi-finalist, amasses scores of “smiley faces” on her teaching evaluations for a teaching style invariably described as well-structured, motivational, engaging, and personable. MIS major and licensed optician Joseph Sylvestre says, “Her classes are well-organized, leaving little doubt about responsibilities and project expectations. For students to feel, without doubt, that their professor is available instills a confidence that even we adult students need to enhance our learning.” CCSU graduate Lemuel Alumbres, now systems administrator at Advest Inc., remembers, “We all loved Dr. Leong’s genuine personality.”

Keeping Ahead of the Technology Curve

“The world changes, and so should I,” remarks Leong. She keeps current in her field through scholarly pursuits, having published on organizational behavior, job commitment, turnover intentions, IS security in E-Business, cryptography, systems usage, data base systems and IS education. An article, co-authored with colleague Olga Petkova on teaching E-Commerce and published in the (2003), introduces new pedagogies and active learning strategies. This past summer, she attended a prestigious institute on “What Do the Best Teachers Do?” offered by the Center for Teaching Excellence at New York University. “It’s a joy to enhance my teaching skills so I can apply them at CCSU,” says Leong, who has presented papers nationally and internationally. Her study on teaching pedagogies was published in the ISECON proceedings in November 2004.

The statuesque Leong is a kind of walking model for today’s now commonplace technological wonders. This past fall when she presented a paper on teaching and learning “outside the box,” she relates, “I went on the Web and found the Information Systems Education conference was being held at the Hyatt in Newport, RI. So, I was able to enter my destination into my portable PDA to get routed from Hartford. GPS provided a map, plus voice directions.” With an irrepressible giggle, she adds, “I bought my PDA on Amazon. As I tell my students, you could load the European map software onto a PDA, rent a car, and travel Europe by the palm of your hand without getting lost. Learn to adapt to new challenges. Remove barriers to communication and strive for a common language wherever life leads you.”

— Geri Radacsi
 
International Business and Economics Research Journal

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