On a beautiful, late-summer evening, information systems (IS) students, alumni, and faculty from the BYU Marriott School of Business gathered to kick off the start of the new academic year with the IS department’s first-ever southern-style tailgate.
Providing everything from brisket and baby Cougar Tails to robots and Cosmo, the tailgate successfully connected students and alumni and served as a fantastic precursor to an epic home-game victory.
The event brought together many exciting elements of the IS program’s unique culture and brand, making the tailgate the perfect place for renewing and creating connections. Sarah Warcup, alumni coordinator for the IS department and orchestrator of the whole celebration, talked about the challenge and fun of “taking a lot of ideas and seeing what we could make out of them.”
The efforts of Warcup and many others resulted in more than 450 attendees enjoying a variety of activities, including taking pictures with Cosmo, eating an authentic tailgate dinner and baby Cougar Tails, and participating in outdoor games and giveaways. Additionally, BYU Marriott’s ROTC program presented the colors and performed a drill routine, and Pepper, the department robot, made a personal appearance, communicating with many intrigued alumni and students.
Clay Posey, an IS professor originally from the South, assisted in bringing this new tradition to the IS department. “I have worked with a lot of big schools that take pride in their sports teams, so I figured since we’re going to be part of the Big 12, we needed to start our own tailgate tradition,” Posey says. “We hope to liven things up, hype up people for the game, and give students and alumni a low-pressure opportunity to make connections with each other.”
Blake Tsuhako, an IS alumni who graduated in 2011, explains why he enjoys this networking aspect of IS events. “My wife and I talk about people we graduated with, so keeping connected continuously has been helpful,” he observes. “I’ve enjoyed catching up with friends I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Students, alumni, and faculty alike recognize that so much of the good in the IS program comes through the support and encouragement everyone is willing to offer each other, and that help was on display all night.
“IS has a fabulous department with amazing people. All they want is to promote their students’ success. I can totally get behind that mission,” Warcup says. “By doing this event, we can instill excellence in others and help people connect, and that’s invaluable.”
Caroline Crane and Parker Mecham, copresidents of the Association for Information Systems (AIS), both attribute the program’s success to the faculty’s kindness and authenticity. “The IS classes I took were the first classes I ever had where a professor knew my name and asked about me. The program is like a family,” says Mecham, an MISM student from Highland, Utah, in his senior year.
Crane, a South Jordan, Utah, native who will also graduate in April, hopes to one day return to the IS department as a faculty member. “As an MISM student, I have had the opportunity to teach, and I would love to come back. That’s my dream. We have awesome students but also such a supportive, stellar faculty. All of the professors go out of their way to know and help students.”
The tailgate also included a brief faculty presentation that covered accomplishments and changes from the previous year. During the presentation, IS professor Greg Anderson talked about why the department and those involved continue to thrive. “The success you experience comes not from just the money you make but the fact that you’re out changing the world through service and jobs well done,” he said. “We are proud of you.”
The inaugural tailgate was a tremendous success, Warcup concluded. “There is a strong desire in the IS community to stay connected and offer ways to help others succeed,” she says. “Bringing everyone together and providing that opportunity to connect was the greatest reward of the evening.”
Writer: Samantha Clinger