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Stanford raising funds for Net program

Internet giants eBay and Schwab are among several companies pitching in to help Stanford University raise more than $20 million to finance studies of the Internet and e-business.

Internet giants eBay, Schwab and General Atlantic are among several companies that have pitched in to help Stanford University raise more than $20 million to finance studies of the Internet and e-business.

Stanford plans to use the funds to build the Center for Electronic Business within the university's Graduate School of Business, fueled by the high demand for skilled high-tech labor in the United States.

According to a statement issued by Stanford today, the program will offer course studies and focus its research on how information and communication affect firms, markets and industries.

"Electronic commerce will affect virtually every company and pervade almost every area of management," said Garth Saloner, a Stanford professor and one of the new program's codirectors.

"These funds will enable us to engage in the research that is so necessary for managers to fully understand the breadth and impact of the [Internet]," he said.

Stanford's program comes at a time when the high-tech sector is in great need of talent. The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) estimates that there are currently 346,000 unfilled high-tech jobs in the United States. In addition, the industry will need up to 1.3 million new highly skilled employees by 2006, according to the Commerce Department.

To answer this demand, Congress announced in October that it was considering legislation to allow companies to draw foreign-born postgraduate students to fill the gaps.

A breeding ground for high-tech success stories, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford is trying to encourage Net companies in its backyard to become more involved in research and education.

Stanford believes that through investing in education, the whole industry wins. "The school will disseminate research to the business community through seminars and educational programs for executives," according to the statement.

As part of the new program, Stanford will offer a new e-commerce course and executive training program next year. The center will also act as a clearinghouse and library for faculty research and studies.

Other companies that contributed to the school were BP Amoco and General Motors.