MICS History

From the MICS history handbook...


The Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium, held annually since 1968, has perhaps achieved the status of being a tradition. Time has somewhat dimmed the facts associated with beginning efforts in developing the symposium into its present vigorous entity. Th e ensuing folklore is probably more humorous than the facts and is dutifully preserved by the Steering Committee. The history of the Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium is an attempt to concisely document the birth and continual development of the symposium . This document, updated annually, will provide a current recording of the tradition.

History of the Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium

Conrad Dietz and Gene Kemper of the University of North Dakota conceived the first annual Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium in 1968. The use of computers for instruction at small institutions of higher education in the Upper Midwest was then just beginning to flourish. The symposium was an effort to get educational users of computers to congregate and share experiences, successes and failures so as to promote high-quality computing at institutions of higher learning. A number of faculty members interested in this subject came together that year on the campus of the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. This was the start of the annual Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium (MICS). Since then the MICS has grown into an annual spring event attended by hundreds of faculty and staff from colleges and universities nationwide. The 1992 symposium marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of an event that has become one of the nation's oldest computer-related issues and opportunities at smaller institutions of higher education.

The University of North Dakota hosted the first nine annual symposia. To promote new perspectives and broaden participation, in 1977 other regional institutions were invited to be the symposium host. The tradition of rotating the Small College Computing Symposium between campuses in the region has been continued, with the meeting usually scheduled for two days in March or April.

The common objective of all symposia has been to provide small college and university faculty and administration education with an opportunity for continuing education in the application of computers to all areas of academia. Typical symposium programs have included the presentation of technical papers, concurrent discussion sessions, and featured speakers from business, industry, and government. The objective has been to provide participants with up-to-the-minute information about new developments and issues. A highlight of every symposium is an extensive exhibit of vender displays. There is, however, always ample time for informal conversation in a friendly atmosphere. Perhaps the greatest benefit of participation is the 'networking' of professional colleagues that naturally occurs in this kind of setting. One evidence of networking is the assistance and encouragement provided to the development of the Eastern Small College Computing Conference. The ESCCC is similar to the MICS, but is scheduled in October.

Although the symposium objective has remained the same, the symposium itself has undergone changes obviously to both the organizers and the participants. Early symposia programs were totally arranged by the organizers. Speakers of national prominence participated through the generous support of professional organization speaker bureaus and computer companies. Beginning with the fourteenth symposium, the solicitation of papers for presentation has provided a significant part of each program. The careful review of submitted papers has contributed to the continued quality of the MICS. Since the 12th symposium, both invited and submitted presentations have been recorded in the MICS Proceedings.

As the symposium began to be hosted by various regional institutions there developed a need for an institutional conference chairperson to plan and organize each annual symposium and for a steering committee to provide continuity to the tradition and purpose of the MICS. These organizational matters have now been formalized in three documents: the Articles of Incorporation of the Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium, the Articles of Agreement, and the Chairperson's Conference Guide. The Steering Committee, like the Proceedings, was initiated with the 12th symposium.