2020 IT Stories

These are the 2020 IT stories that have been shared with us by the University Community.

Share your story

  • CIO's reflection, 2020

    Submitted by Tom Wolf, Chief Information Officer

    When I saw the /it/review call for 2020 stories my mind began racing. Where should I begin? What stories should I include? Should I mention Jim Cotton working all weekend to stand up a second and much needed VPN solution? Or should I mention Aaron Monsma and Dylan Ledbetter implementing Labstats “alpha” code, almost overnight, so that students could “remotely” access computer lab software? And then there was the Board of Trustees meeting where Jacob Neumann used WebEx to livestream a Zoom meeting over Youtube (hurts my head to think about it, lol). And let’s not forget the army of WMU employees, faculty and staff, who worked together to produce over 3,000 medical face shields for Sindecuse and organizations throughout the Kalamazoo area. These are but a few of the hundreds, no thousands, of WMU stories that took place in 2020. So much has been done by so many Broncos this past year that it’s almost asking too much to share only one story for fear of leaving out another equally worthy story.

    Most will remember 2020 as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, a global health tragedy on a scale that the world hasn't seen in over 100 years. As if an unprecedented global pandemic wasn't enough, 2020 also saw a long overdue global escalation in the awareness of systemic racism. High unemployment rates, political theater, world hunger, and an unending string of climate change induced forest fires and hurricanes also marked the 2020 calendar. There were so many challenges in 2020 that it would be easy to forget that there were also many accomplishments that also took place. For example, think how remarkable it was that our friends in Portage, our Pfizer friends, were able to get to market in under a year, a vaccine that would normally have taken the better part of a decade to develop. No offense to James T. Kirk, but Portage and Pfizer spent 2020 giving new meaning to the phrase "warp speed"!

    On our own WMU campus, in our own backyard, I was personally amazed at how quickly WMU's IT community came together last spring to move the entire campus off campus in the span of, what, a week? Way to go WMU IT Community! I may be a little biased but I will always see 2020 as the year IT showed their worth and then some! The campus transition to fully online summer courses and fully online support services was exceptional. Fall Semester saw an extensive blend of course offerings made possible through the remarkably collaborative and hardworking efforts of the entire WMU community. And if we all hadn't been through enough, courses and support services once again successfully moved to fully online midway through the Fall Semester. These are but a few of the many remarkable stories that took place right here on the physical and virtual campuses of Western Michigan University in 2020.

    Every WMU employee came away from 2020 with a positive story to tell because it took the collective efforts of the entire campus community to help WMU not only survive, but thrive! Collaboration. Cooperation. Community. Caring. Working together the WMU campus community demonstrated that the possibilities are limitless when we work together to rethink smart! I will remember 2020 as the year that all of us were presented with unprecedented challenges on a global scale and not only did we weather the storm but we stood together, stood strong, and through our collective efforts we were able to accomplish great things! Words cannot express how proud I am to be part of WMU’s 2020 story of patience, persistence, and perseverance in the pursuit of passion and purpose!

    Always a Bronco,