The annual spring CITx event was held virtually on April 13, featuring a special guest who wanted to take a moment to salute the work of Illinois State’s information technology (IT) community.
This year’s event was headlined by Illinois State University President Dr. Larry Dietz. In November, Dietz announced that he was retiring on June 30, 2021, capping a career in higher education spanning over 50 years. Dietz was introduced by Associate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Charles Edamala, who spoke glowingly of Dietz’s leadership.
“It is safe to say that Dietz has had to call on every ounce of energy during these last seven years,” Edamala said. “We are very fortunate that he is at the helm and that he is the one who charted the course through those many difficult times and continues to do so.”
Dietz spoke about the challenge the University has faced during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Illinois State was able to weather the storm thanks to the University’s ability to act quickly as the crisis progressed.
“The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way that each of us accomplish our goals, and certainly the University, but also our ability to pivot many times since March of 2020 has made a huge difference in our continued success this year,” he said.
Dietz also took a moment to reflect and share what the University has learned during the past year. He noted the resilience of the University, specifically calling out the IT community’s ability to quickly transition to online learning.
“Because we’ve been able to make this conversion, nearly 5,000 people last spring got an academic credential that they would not have had if this institution, and all of us, and the students, not been persistent to get through that semester,” he said.
Dietz also expressed his gratitude to the Illinois State IT community and the hard work they have put in throughout his tenure as president.
“When I say ‘we couldn’t get on without you’ that phrase takes a deeper meaning than ever before,” he said. “And although we must remain cautious and vigilant, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and I want to thank you all for helping shed that light.”
Dietz ended his talk by looking back on his tenure as president, noting that he hopes to continue to see members of the Illinois State community around Bloomington-Normal as he enjoys his retirement.
“For the amount of time that I have been able to serve as your president, it’s a capstone of my career,” he said. “Marlene and I have enjoyed the institution very, very much. We’ve enjoyed the community and that is the reason we have decided to retire in the community.”
IT news was headlined by the presentation of this year’s student MVP Award to Morgan Cunningham of Web and Interactive Communications. Cunningham was recognized for her dedication to accessibility, improving apps and websites across campus.
“In the past six years, it has been a pleasure to follow her journey at ISU,” said Jen Bethmann, web accessibility coordinator. “She has assisted and educated and advocated for people with disabilities on our campus and beyond.”
Following the keynote and news session, attendees could attend several Redbirds of a Feather sessions. Topics included security, mixed learning environments, and how the Illinois State IT community is planning for fall 2021.
Organizers are looking ahead to the annual CITx conference, which is tentatively set to be held virtually this summer.
“The CIT Planning Committee has been very pleased with how engaged the ISU IT community has been in the virtual CIT events held over the past year, and will build on that success for future events,” said CIT Planning Committee Chair Carla Birckelbaw.
CIT is sponsored by the Office of Technology Solutions, TechZone, Student Affairs IT, and the College of Business.