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Your IT!

Carol Katzman                  “At Barnard, IT shouldn’t just be sufficient,” says Carol Katzman, Barnard’s new vice president for information technology. “We need to aim for elegance.”

                  “Barnard is a top-tier private institution,” explains Katzman, who joined Barnard in September 2009 from Hunter College. Unlike a corporate environment, where efficiency is everything, according to Katzman, “25 percent of the student body is new every year, and they come in with the expectation that Barnard is a current, modern place.” Therefore, says this graduate of Brown and the University

of Pennsylvania, “It’s not enough to have an e-mail system that works. Our version of webmail is from the late ’90s. It’s completely competent, but it looks dated. In a corporate environment, that’s fine. But young students see it and say, “Oh, I’ll just forward to Gmail.”

                  Katzman, who has worked in higher education since 1987, dove into the first few months of her new post with a series of meetings with students, faculty, and staff. “It’s my job to listen to people’s frustrations and translate them into clear directives for my staff,” she explains. Poster boards listing frustrations expanded on during those meetings now cover her walls. “I basically said, ‘tell me where we need to be’ and let the answers shape my agenda.”

                  One of her top priorities is refreshing Barnard’s information systems. “Our networking is good,” she says, “but we need to become more current.” She expects that the College’s calendar and e-mail accounts will be upgraded in the next year. Katzman has also begun to redesign the ubiquitous eBear, the Barnard community’s intranet system, which students, faculty, and staff use for everything from e-mail, to signing up for classes, to payroll and accounting. “Right now,” she explains, “faculty, staff, and students log in to eBear and see different things. It makes for an isolated environment. We are one community. We should all be on the same virtual campus ... we all walk through the same Barnard gates.”

                  Another of Katzman’s main goals is bringing a pervasive wireless network to campus. “It’s not just about wireless,” she affirms. “It’s a constant ongoing commitment to networking. When we do it right, no one will even notice it. It will just be like air—you expect it and it’s there.”

                  As for working at Barnard, “I love it,” she enthuses. “It’s the best of all worlds. We have all the Columbia University resources, but our campus is just the right scale. Often, small campuses have limited resources. But we are just big enough to do things, and just small enough to deliver.” She has also been inspired by the College’s unique spirit. “Barnard is just a very exciting place. People here are curious and engaged and interested in changing and thinking, which is very energizing. The atmosphere here gives you the opportunity to be really creative.”

-by Karen Schwartz, photograph by Andy Ryan