In a bid to implement a more uniform campus technology policy, UCSB recently recruited its first chief information officer for the task.
Former Texas A&M Executive Computing and Information Services Director Thomas Putnam made the move to Santa Barbara this summer and has begun drafting initiatives that promise to consolidate the computing systems used on campus. As the new associate vice chancellor for information technology, Putnam said he will prioritize the implementation of course management systems that distribute assignments and grades. Though various such systems are already in place, Putnam said his system will further improve the course planning process.
“While GOLD keeps track of which courses you’re signed up for, this is designed to give you reading materials and what you’re doing next week,” Putnam said. “There is a lot of interest in course management systems. We want to build a standard one that everyone on campus can use.”
Putnam also said he is interested in augmenting UCSB’s wireless Internet access. He said that blanketing the campus immediately would prove prohibitively expensive, so his office plans to explore slowly expanding the service to high-use areas.
Putnam’s office is currently drafting a new plan for implementing the changes, he said.
“Part of the strategic plan is to figure out what we need first,” Putnam said. “If you make the whole campus wireless overnight it costs a lot more than if you figure out where people use their computers and implement access there over a period of time.”
Putnam has extensive experience working in research-oriented and educational environments. In addition to his experience at Texas A&M, Putnam has also worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Purdue University.
UCSB’s new associate vice chancellor said his move was motivated by the school’s reputation and that he hopes students will contribute their input.
“[UCSB] came looking for me and I found out that there’s a lot of good people doing good things here,” Putnam said. “I look forward to talking with all sorts of folks. I’m particularly interested in hearing from students what they would like to see done on campus.”