Regents Professorships are awarded by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents to distinguished faculty whose scholarship or creative activity is recognized both nationally and internationally as innovative and pace setting. The professorship, which includes a $10,000 salary increase, is granted for an initial period of three years and may be renewed. No more than one such award may be given at UGA in any year.
“Dr. Watson’s scholarship is consistently on the leading edge of the rapidly evolving field of information systems, and he demonstrates a selfless dedication to his students and to the wider global community,” said Provost Pamela Whitten, whose office oversees the review process for nominations for the award.
Watson joined the UGA faculty in 1989 and is internationally recognized for his work in database management, information systems and environmentally sustainable development. He has published more than 160 peer-reviewed journal articles and has authored or co-authored 19 books. His work has been translated into five languages and has been cited more than 12,000 times. A 1996 paper on web metrics that he co-authored in the Journal of Advertising Research is one of the publication’s most cited articles of all time, for example, and a 2010 journal article he co-authored on energy informatics—the application of information technology to monitor, control and reduce energy usage—already has received more than 300 citations. He has given invited presentations and seminars in more than 30 countries, including one year in which he gave five keynote speeches on five continents.
“Simply put, Rick is one of the best scholars in the information systems discipline,” wrote Lynda Applegate, the Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
Watson has served on the editorial board of many of the major journals in his discipline and has chaired or co-chaired most of his field’s major conferences. He serves as research director for the Advanced Practices Council of the Society for Information Management, which is composed of the chief information officers of many of the largest organizations in North America. He served as president of the Association for Information Systems from 2003 to 2004 and spearheaded policies that allow scholars in developing countries to pay a reduced membership fee and make the association’s electronic library freely available to scholars in developing nations. He has been instrumental in setting up a doctoral program in management information systems in Ethiopia and in establishing the China chapter of AIS, an organization that has helped unify and dramatically advance information systems scholarship in China.
“His persistent efforts have contributed significantly to the internationalization of the field of information systems, and this impact will continue to be seen for many more years to come,” said Bernard C.Y. Tan, vice provost at the National University of Singapore and past AIS president.
Watson has earned many honors throughout his career, including receiving a Fulbright Award and being named an AIS Fellow in 2006 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2007. In 2011 the AIS presented him with its Leo Award for exceptional lifetime achievement.
Watson has been recognized for his teaching ability on numerous occasions, including being repeatedly selected by Terry College MBA students as one of the program’s top five instructors. In 2001, he co-designed the Terry College’s Master of Internet Technology degree, a then first-of-a-kind program.
“Rick has a wonderful ability to capture students’ attention, to explain complex material in a simple yet effective way, and to motivate his audience to want to know more and to challenge themselves,” said Leyland Pitt, holder of the Dennis F. Culver EMBA Alumni Chair of Business and professor of marketing at Simon Fraser University in Canada. “I have unashamedly borrowed many of Rick’s great ideas and techniques, and still use them in my classes.”
The Global Text Project he started at UGA in 2006 became the first and leading creator and distributor of open source free textbooks, which has enabled thousands of students worldwide gain access to education. In 2013, he was able to get his publisher to revert the rights to his data management textbook so that he could publish a lower-cost electronic version. As a result, the 6th edition in Kindle format costs $9.99. The prior print version, by comparison, cost more than $100.
A native of Australia, Watson earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Western Australia and an M.B.A. from Monash University in Melbourne. He earned his doctorate from the University of Minnesota.