Normally, Illinois State University Information Technology (IT) professionals assemble in the State Farm Hall of Business shortly before the beginning of the school year for the annual Continuous Improvement in Technology (CIT) conference. The continuing coronavirus crisis necessitated a shift in format and date, and after a successful virtual spring CITx event showed what was possible, the annual CIT event was held on December 16.  

This year’s event was headlined by Redbird Esports Director David Kirk, M.S. ‘16. Kirk rejoined Illinois State after serving at the University of Akron as their assistant director of esports. Kirk is also the co-founder of National Collegiate Esports, an organization that helps esports professionals network, share best practices, and grow their programs. Illinois State’s IT community was among some of the early supporters of Redbird Esports, giving the student organization early spaces to practice and show that esports can work at Illinois State. 

Kirk detailed Illinois State’s plans to be a major competitor in the esports space while also creating community, supporting academic programs, and developing the careers of those involved with the program. Redbird Esports has quickly assembled teams in OverwatchLeague of Legends, and Rocket League that Kirk expects to be highly competitive on a national stage. 

“The goal is to win three national championships in the fall/spring of next year, which is something no other university has done,” he said. “We’re going to try to be the first to do that and I think we have a very real possibility.” 

Following Kirk’s talk, Associate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Charles Edamala spoke to the assembled Illinois State IT community to acknowledge the massive amounts of work done during the pandemic. Illinois State needing to quickly pivot to online learning was an unprecedented challenge that was met head-on.

Image with the words CIT Redbirds We Did All of This comprised of all the different tasks Illinois State's IT community accomplished during the pandemic.
Graphic made by the CIT Planning Committee illustrating all of the tasks completed by the IT community during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Thousands of students graduated in May and a thousand more graduated last weekend,” Edamala said. “They wouldn’t have if you and I hadn’t shown up to work each and every day during this pandemic.” 
After Edamala’s remarks, IT staff from across campus shared updates from their units. Highlights included a new student success dashboard, an enterprise workflow tool coming in 2021, video to stream migration, and information security news.

IT news was headlined by the presentation of this year’s MVP Award to Melinda Potter in Endpoint Support. Potter is the third winner, joining Ben Wyman and Chris Johnson. The MVP Award recognizes one full-time technical staff member each year in the Illinois State University community for outstanding contributions to the support of faculty, staff, students, and/or operations, as well as collaboration with others.  

Potter began her career with Illinois State as a student worker and has been invaluable in managing the current cohort of student workers. 

“Now I am a student supervisor and I can tell you without a doubt that is where I want to be, that is where I am meant to be because I have such a passion for helping the students and guiding them,” Potter said.  

Following the keynote and news session, attendees had their choice of two breakout sessions they could attend. Topics included Solarwinds Orion, Microsoft Teams, the student loaner laptop program, Learning Spaces and Audio/Visual Technologies, webcams as document cameras, high performance computing, and CIS controls. 

Organizers are already looking ahead to the spring CITx conference, which is tentatively set to be held virtually once again. 

“Taking the CIT conference virtual this year was a kind of statement of solidarity with our campus community,” said CIT Planning Committee member Jeff Grabb, executive director of technology and building services. “We’ve asked our colleagues to step way outside their comfort zone and teach, operate, or work with new tools in new ways and trust our technology to help them do the job, so the least we can do is model that ourselves.” 
CIT is sponsored by the Office of Technology Solutions, TechZone, Student Affairs IT, and the College of Business.  

If you are interested in assisting the committee, email Learn more at Interested in learning more about Redbird Esports? Follow them on FacebookYoutubeTwitter, and Twitch.