Tapping Into Technology

By Lori Putnam

Judy Swanson; Swanson confers with user services team

With her background in library services, you might assume that Judy Swanson would prefer a card catalog to a laptop computer. But it is in fact professionals like Swanson, who serves as the University’s Manager of IT User Services and Director of Academic Technology, who are helping to influence how faculty and staff access information today.

“Technology is changing the way faculty teach,” remarks Swanson, who came to CI in April 2003 to serve as head of the library’s digital services. One of the first challenges she faced upon arriving was to extract the CI library records from its sister university, California State University, Northridge. Four years later, Swanson was tasked to manage additional areas of information technology.

“I considered the request, and felt that I would have more impact on the University if I were in that role,” she says. Initially, she managed the Help Desk and classroom technology. Over time, her responsibilities have grown to include Academic Technology Services and a team of 16 staff members.

“A lot of my job is about being an evangelist for technology approaches in education,” says Swanson, whose staff is now responsible for everything from the University Web site to online classrooms. She cites a high usage by CI students of such tools as discussion boards, Wikis, and online quizzes as part of their learning experience.

Most recently, Swanson and her team oversaw the launch of the new University student portal, myCI. The portal serves as the single point of access for major campus applications including CI Learn, CI Records, and Dolphin Email. The next major initiative will be upgrading myCI to allow for single sign-on access for faculty and staff.

When she’s not at work, the Michigan native enjoys taking hiking trips. She’s visited China, Ireland, the Austrian Alps, and has hiked from one coast of England to the other.

“Until I came into IT, I was always part of libraries,” says Swanson, who has also served on the staffs of Sonoma State, San Jose State, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “In a way, my background in libraries made me service-oriented. IT can be task-oriented. In my position, I can blend both and meet the user’s needs.”

Meeting student needs is even more critical in the face of recent state budget cuts to higher education. Swanson has seen a recent upswing in requests as more faculty and staff members take to the Web site to help streamline work. Swanson credits her staff for helping to address the demand. “It’s long hours but I have 16 people who are committed to meeting the needs of students and faculty at CI.”