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connectiONS FALL/WINTER 2017  l  VOL. 17, NO. 1


Immersion Trips Expand to the Pacific Northwest PAGE 12

BLISTS Marks 25 Years PAGE 16

Reflections: Looking Back 42 Years PAGE 30



Dear Alumni and Friends, Dean’s Message


warm greeting to all our iSchool family – alums, parents, colleagues, friends, and current students! I am eager to catch you up on what iSchoolers have been doing – and as always, there is a very full array of activities and events. First, congratulations to BLISTS, the Black and Latino Information Studies Support student organization, on their 25th anniversary! BLISTS has been exemplary, both in terms of students’ mutual support for each other, as well as reaching out in support of the broader community. We are delighted that BLISTS marked this special year with a celebration, and are now working with BLISTS alumni in planning a spring event that will bring current students together with BLISTS’ very active alumni to learn from their experiences and to celebrate this amazing organization. As you know, our immersion trips are one of the favorite initiatives of the iSchool, and over the summer we launched our newest trip, Peak-2-Peak, with visits to companies, both large and small, in Seattle and Portland. These are companies that our students are interested in, and who are very interested in our students. Our alumni are an important aspect of these trips, hosting us at many of the sites. Their interest and support was very evident during the alumni reception which I joined in Seattle, where the students and alums were very engaged in each learning from the other, as well as mutual interest in potential opportunities for our students at the alums’ companies.

We are now looking to launch an immersion trip to Chicago in 2018 and would love to hear from our Chicago alums who might serve as hosts or mentors for meet-ups with the students. We hosted our 7th terrific It Girls Overnight Retreat in October, welcoming high-achieving high school girls – with the highest average GPA in all the years we’ve been doing this. As always, it was great fun, eye-opening for many of the girls, and greatly enriched by our female alums, who came to town for the weekend to lead our workshops, and to share their professional stories with the Girls. These events have had a dramatically positive affect on the exceptionally high percentage (42%) of females in our undergraduate program – which is reported to be the highest percentage of females in any U.S. technical program. This bodes so well for women in STEM fields, as well as the recognition of the Syracuse iSchool as the leader in this space. And thanks to all the many alums I’ve had an occasion to see and talk with over the past few months – in New York, D.C., Seattle, and at professional conferences, like ASIS&T. I love both learning about what our alums are doing, and thanking you for all you do for the iSchool, and updating you in person on the latest news from the iSchool. So until our next Connections, wishing you well!

connectiONS FALL/WINTER 2017  l  VOL. 17, NO. 1


inside this issue F E AT U R E S

Immersion Trips Expand to the Pacific Northwest


BLISTS Marks 25 Years of Supporting Students, Growing Diversity



12 Connections is published twice a year by the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Dean: Elizabeth D. Liddy G’77, G’88

Connecting with the iSchool

Alumni News Editor: Julie Walas Huynh

Connect with the iSchool on Social Media:

5 8 10 19



Design and Production: Colleen Kiefer, Kiefer Creative Address correspondence to: Connections Syracuse University iSchool 343M Hinds Hall Syracuse, NY 13244 (315) 443-3094



Editor: J.D. Ross

Contributors: Barbara Brooks Sophie Estep Kathleen Haley Julie Walas Huynh Kim Pietro J.D. Ross Barbara Settel Elaine Wackerow Sarah Weber

Around the iSchool Faculty Viewpoint: 10 Years with the iPhone New Board of Advisors Members Student Profile

From the Director Class Notes Alumni Profile: Shay Colson G’10 Upcoming Alumni Events 2nd Annual Awards & Recognition Program Winners

22 23 26 29 32

O N T H E C OV E R Current members of the Black and Latino Information Studies Support (BLISTS) student organization with BLISTS alumni Jason Mills ‘95 and Reggie Acloque G’99. BLISTS celebrated their 25th anniversary this fall. Read more about it on page 16. Photo by J.D. Ross.



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aster’s student Aiyappa Uthaiah G’18 is helping administrators at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) better understand a crucial tool in interpreting trends related to veterans’ programs and services. Aiyappa works with the Veterans Strategic Analysis and Research Tool (V-START), a data visualization application that creates easy-toread visuals of various veteran demographic, education, socioeconomic and unemployment public data. The bar graphs, charts, maps and dashboards that are generated through V-START help users quickly analyze and explore the data to undercover trends and inform decisions on veteran’s affairs.

“V-START can help quickly answer a variety of ‘what if’ scenarios by marshaling the sea of available data to enable more informed decisions on veterans and their families. Without Aiyappa, the V-START tool would not be supported, sustained or enhanced.” —BONNIE CHAPMAN, DIRECTOR OF EVALUATION AND INNOVATION AT IVMF

The second-year master’s student says the challenge is in understanding the needs of those who want to use the data. “Then, in terms of the data, it’s all about collecting the data, cleaning the data and trying to understand what meaningful questions we can answer with the data that we have,” Aiyappa says. Transitioning service members, veterans and military families can use V-START to make more informed choices in their post-service life. The tool can also be useful to corporations, foundations, non-profits and government agencies to inform decisions related to initiatives that will positively influence veterans and their families. V-START, developed through IVMF in collaboration with consulting firm Deloitte, was built using Tableau, a software program.

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“V-START, in essence, provides life and usability to data that might otherwise be hard to use,” says Bonnie Chapman, director of evaluation and innovation at IVMF and Aiyappa’s supervisor. Bonnie notes that Aiyappa has made significant contributions to the development and maintenance of V-START. “Along with being responsible for updating and incorporating public data in to the tool, Aiyappa also designs and develops additional visualizations,” she says. “Additionally, as more people become aware of the tool—and more feedback is given—we are able to better understand how to use the tool.” His essential work has helped IVMF create a service for everyone. “V-START can help quickly answer a variety of ‘what if’ scenarios by marshaling the sea of available data to enable more informed decisions on veterans and their families,” Bonnie says. “Without Aiyappa, the V-START tool would not be supported, sustained or enhanced.” The work of analyzing data and generating visuals to represent the data drives Aiyappa’s interest. “Investigating, exploring and digging deeper into the data and finding patterns and how to leverage the knowledge gained is what fascinates me,” he says. “I also enjoy working on building visualizations, which brings out the creative side of me. Plus, we work on so many technologies and the exposure that one gets from working here is amazing.” After graduation, Aiyappa hopes to become an analyst. “The work that I do at IVMF is giving me the exposure that I need to achieve this,” Aiyappa says. “My motivation is my interest in working with data from realworld situations and to uncover meaningful insights from them.” n


Graduate Student Helps Bring Data to Life in Visuals for IVMF

Aiyappa Uthaiah creates data visualizations in his office at the IVMF




“It’s an honor for us to represent Syracuse University at the forefront of interdiscip­ linary research. Over the next year, our team will develop designs for community energy dashboards for the Mueller neighborhood in Austin, and we’ll conduct field work through community workshops to enhance visualization and simulation of built environment energy performance.” —ELIZABETH KRIETEMEYER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE

iSchool professor Jason Dedrick (center) with School of Architecture faculty members Tarek Rakha and Elizabeth Krietemeyer.


iSchool, School of Architecture Faculty Receive NSF Grant for Smart Energy Research THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF) has awarded a Smart & Connected Communities (S&CC) grant of $99,965 to three Syracuse University faculty/Center of Excellence (CoE) fellows: iSchool Professor Jason Dedrick, and School of Architecture Assistant Professors and Tarek Rakha. They are among the first to receive S&CC grant support since the inception of the program. The award will support a collaborative planning project to study the feasibility of a community energy project in Austin, Texas, and create knowledge and tools for a program that will serve as a model for other communities across the U.S. The concept of community energy involves integrating small-scale solar power, demand management and energy storage at the community level to create economic, environmental, and social value for individuals and communities while improving the reliability and resilience of the electric grid. Says Krietemeyer, “It’s an honor for us to represent Syracuse University at the forefront of interdisciplinary research. Over the next year, our team will develop designs for community energy dashboards for the Mueller neighborhood in Austin, and we’ll conduct field work through community workshops to enhance visualization and simulation of built environment energy performance.” According to the NSF, “cities and communities in the U.S.

and around the world are entering a new era of transformational change, in which their inhabitants and the surrounding built and natural environments are increasingly connected by smart technologies, leading to new opportunities for innovation, improved services, and enhanced quality of life. The intent of this research effort is to support strongly interdisciplinary, integrative research and research capacity-building activities that will improve understanding of smart and connected communities and lead to discoveries that enable sustainable change to enhance community functioning.” The S&CC grant complements another recently awarded to Dedrick, Krietemeyer, and Rakha by the Syracuse CoE Faculty Fellows program for their project “Community Energy Dashboard: A Tool for a Community Energy Approach.” “This planning grant represents the kind of cross-discipline, cross-campus research needed to pursue new and challenging opportunities such as Community Energy,” says Dedrick. “The support of the Center of Excellence has been instrumental in getting this research off the ground.” n


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ischool BEN GABBE


Daniel Acuna

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Acuna Launches Beta Version of Tool for Research and Funding Discovery


ast fall, iSchool faculty member Daniel Acuna was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation titled “Improving grant reviewing and scientific innovation by linking funding and scholarly literature.” One of the goals of the two-year project was to research and develop a recommendation system that would aid both researchers and program officers in exploring publications and grants across certain scholarly areas. After a year of research and development work, Acuna and his team have recently made a beta version of the recommendation tool available, and are interested in gathering feedback from scholars as they begin to use it. Called EILEEN (Exploratory Innovator of LitEraturE Networks), Acuna believes that the recommendation engine will be useful in scoping and planning of funded research projects. “It’s a system that will help both scientists and pre-award grant developers, essentially anyone at a college or university doing any kind of active research,” Acuna explained. “The tool helps them find similar publications and grants to what they’re proposing.”

“Currently, we’re working with datasets that include about 28 million publications and 3 million grants,” said Acuna. The beta version of EILEEN allows researchers to establish their own profile, set their preferences, and create a library of saved searches. The system then learns from this library and recommends similar publications and grant opportunities. “We’re hoping that the tool will allow researchers to find appropriate funding opportunities, relevant grants, and similar published research faster than they would normally be able to do,” said Acuna. “And we’d like to know what features might be missing, or if there is anything they think we can add that will help them find the funding information they’re searching for.” Researchers interested in trying the tool can access it at, and feedback can be directed to Acuna at n


‘Separated’ at the Paley Center in NYC.


ean Liz Liddy with two iSchool student veterans, graduate student Ginger Peterman, and senior Zackary Couch. Peterman and Couch along with six other student veterans appeared in ‘Separated’ at the Paley Center for Media in New York City in a special Veterans Day performance on November 13. ‘Separated’ shares the experiences of these veterans as they left home to join the military, and then separated from the service to return to civilian life.




Ten Years with the iPhone STEVE SARTORI



en years ago this past summer, Apple released the first iPhone to the world. In doing so, Apple established a dominant design that the whole emerging smart phone industry then followed. The flip-phone was gone, and a new era began – this was a big moment in the development of a new technology. The next big change came with the introduction of the App Store about a year later, in July 2008. This opened up the market for thousands of developers to create complementary products that greatly increased the value of the iPhone itself. Google followed this example when they created their Android ecosystem, although with much less control than Apple exerted. A third impact in the mobile communications arena was the shift in market power from the carriers to the phone makers. Before the iPhone came along, carriers like AT&T and Verizon thought they could control the ecosystem and capture the greatest value. But devices like the iPhone and the competing Android handsets that followed meant that customers became more committed to their phones and the apps on them than they were to a particular carrier. Apple’s newest offering that debuted this fall, the iPhone X, comes with a stunning price increase. $1000 just for the entry-level handset with 64GB of storage. Apple’s monopoly over iOS phones gives them pricing power that Android makers just don’t have. The perceived cost of switching from iOS to Android (or vice versa) is high enough, and Apple customers are loyal enough, that they can maintain the high margins they earn on these

phones. On the other hand, Apple has ceded the low-end market to the Android makers, and is likely to see its market share keep falling, especially in developing markets. In my research, which focuses on the supply chain side of Apple’s business, I’ve found that the iPhone, interestingly enough, didn’t change the supply chain that much, it just expanded it a lot. Apple’s supply base in Asia, and particularly in China, had been created by the laptop industry and by Apple a few years before the iPhone launch, with their iPod. Apple leveraged that supply chain to achieve high volume, fast ramp-up manufacturing for the iPhone. Every time a product announcement is made, a complex symphony of manufacturing and logistics involving hundreds of companies and hundreds of thousands of workers across multiple countries is happening behind the scenes to get those phones in the stores for their release dates. I think most people would be amazed if they could see what it takes to put that phone in their hands. For instance, Apple’s main contract manufacturer, Foxconn, has hundreds of machine tools in each plant that need to be configured in a matter of weeks to mold plastic and bend metal to the precise tolerances set by Apple. Assembly lines need to be set up, suppliers must have each of the 2000+ parts ready to ship, and distributors and logistics companies must be ready to move the parts to the factory and finished goods to stores around the world. All of this must be ramped up to millions of units in a very short time to hit the holiday shopping season.

In addition, Apple needs to ensure that developers have new versions of apps ready that can take advantage of the new iPhone’s capabilities. The decision in the iPhone to leave out the headphone jack meant that wireless headphones and earbuds had to be available, as well as adaptors for older headphones that customers didn’t want to throw out. While Apple’s competitors have created their own supply chains, using many of the same suppliers and distributors, Apple has the advantage of only offering about a half-dozen models at any time, while companies such as Samsung and Huawei may have over 100 models for sale around the world. This simplifies Apple’s supply and logistics problems, but also means that nearly every Apple product has to be a success, or the company could take a hit to its revenues and profits. Apple has performed exceptionally well for the first ten years of the iPhone, but the competition is stronger than ever and Apple’s share of the market has been dropping slowly the past few years. The next ten years look more challenging that the past decade. n


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Crowston, Erickson Receive Inaugural NSF Convergence Award


Kevin Crowston DORIE HAGLER

Ingrid Erickson

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aculty members Kevin Crowston and Ingrid Erickson are the recipients of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Convergence Award, which they will use to establish a research coordination network (RCN) to focus on socio-technological interactions between work and technology design in the age of increased automation. This first round of NSF Convergence Awards highlights awardees that will leverage the integration of multiple disciplines to advance scientific discovery and innovation. Toward this end, the RCN that Crowston and Erickson will establish will bring together investigators from the fields of computer science, engineering, and the social and behavioral sciences to communicate, coordinate and integrate their research and educational activities across both disciplinary and organizational boundaries. Crowston and Erickson’s award falls under one of the NSF’s 10 recently-named “big idea” initiatives: Work at the HumanTechnology Frontier: Shaping the Future. This initiative addresses pressing research challenges at the human-technology frontier such as the changing ways goods and services are produced or the ways that distributed colleagues collaborate. Focusing specifically on work settings that involve the use of intelligent machines, Crowston and Erickson will coordinate convergent research that aims to better understand how both sides of this human-technology frontier can be designed equitably. This goal aligns with NSF´s belief that there is a unique opportunity to actively shape the development and use of technologies to improve the quality of work while also increasing productivity and economic growth in both manufacturing and service sectors such as healthcare and education. “Our network will help create venues for interdisciplinary groups of scholars to meet, interact and generate the research that is necessary to develop actionable design prinTHE iSCHOOL @ SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY

ciples in the realm of work and automation for work and intelligent machines,” explained Crowston. The new research network will undertake three primary activities during its term. “First it will organize an annual Convergence Conference that highlights the contribution of convergent research regarding the socio-technological landscape of work in the age of increased automation,” said Crowston. “Second, it will support a series of workshops at different disciplinary conferences that expand the reach of the network and consolidate, test, verify and evolve research ideas as they develop. And finally, the network will establish and maintain a set of shared online resources that support the research community and its efforts.” The five-year award will provide nearly $500,000 in funding for the RCN. Joining Crowston and Erickson as coprincipal investigators on the project is Jeffrey Nickerson, Professor and Associate Dean of Research at Stevens Institute of Technology. n


7th Annual It Girls Retreat Brings HighAchieving High Schoolers to Campus THE 7th ANNUAL IT GIRLS Overnight Retreat took place on campus in October, bringing a group of high-achieving high school junior and senior girls to Syracuse University to learn about information technology as an academic discipline. The event, organized by the iSchool, is designed to build confidence, inspire, and create a pathway for girls to study information technology as an academic discipline. An essential piece of the program involves creating meaningful connections between professional women, iSchool alumni who work in the IT industry, and the girls. The program targets the significant gender imbalance in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. While women hold nearly half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 30 percent of STEM jobs, according to the Science and Engineering Indicators report published in 2016 by the National Science Foundation. Females make up 42 percent of the undergraduate population at the iSchool.




Workshops Offer Glimpse Into IT Discipline

Experienced Coders, High-Achievers

Ernst & Young (EY), GE, IBM, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and Synchrony Financial sponsored the retreat. Representatives of the companies, some of them iSchool graduates and past It Girls retreat participants themselves, volunteered to lead workshops and participate in panel discussions. These workshops introduced the girls to different facets of the information technology field through lectures, short hands-on participatory challenges, and coding assignments. The workshops were specifically designed to be reflective of the curriculum at the iSchool, to show the girls what to expect from an iSchool education. After the workshops and a dinner, the girls participated in the Late Night Challenge, organized by iSchool adjunct professor Laurie Ferger. The challenge allowed the girls to explore a project at the intersec-

Of the 100 girls registered for this year’s event, over 40 percent had some technical or coding experience under their belt. Attendees this year also boasted the highest grade point average in all seven years, at 3.7, with more than a third having a perfect 4.0 GPA. “The academic aptitude we saw this year was the highest it’s ever been,” noted Stephanie Worden, undergraduate recruiter for the iSchool, and lead organizer of the event. “This group was so engaged with the program, with the content, and with each other, it was great to watch. Many of them formed some lifelong friendships, I can tell.” n

Students from the iSchool’s Information Security Club ran one of the weekend’s workshops on hacking and cybersecurity. From left, graduate student Olivia Kisker, and sophomores Emily Simens, Quinn Hecker, and Victoria Tomalin.

tion of mathematics and design, using mathematical formulas to create different visual designs and representations. Prizes were awarded at the end of the challenge.

Program Sponsors

The 2017 It Girls cohort boasted the highest grade point average in all seven years of the program, at 3.7, with more than a third having a perfect 4.0 GPA.



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transitions DAVID BRODA

Radhika Garg

The iSchool welcomes new faculty member Radhika Garg



he iSchool is pleased to welcome the following new members to the Board of Advisors. The iSchool’s Board is a collective resource of alumni, senior business people, professionals, industry leaders, and other supporters, organized to assist in the development of the School and to help shape and realize its vision. For more information about the Board, contact Kim Pietro, Assistant Dean for Advancement at n

Mike Harasimowicz ’89 Managing Director for Advanced Analytics at J.P. Morgan Chase

Aditya Kudumala G’00 Principal (Partner) — Deloitte Life Sciences practice

Michael Librizzi ’05 Developer Products Lead — Global Product Partnerships for Google


arg received her Ph.D. and Master of Science Degrees in Computer Science from the University of Zurich in Switzerland, and her Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science from the Mody Institute of Technology in Rajasthan, India. She worked as a junior researcher for the Communications Systems Group at the University of Zurich before coming to Syracuse. Her research interests include information science, economics, and the impact of regulation on public policy, business decisions and deployment, operation, and maintenance of network and communication technology. “I am super excited to be part of the Syracuse iSchool, specifically because of the interdisciplinary work that it fosters,” said Garg. “I have always been an interdisciplinary and collaborative person, doing research in computer science, decision making, and its associated regulatory and policy issues, and I am looking forward to collaborating with faculty, staff and students on a variety of projects to understand, model, and predict adoption decisions made by users and organizations with respect to emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things and cloud computing.” n

iSchool Welcomes New Members to Board of Advisors

Ruth Small Retires, Honored with Festschrift


uth Small, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor and Founding Director of the Center for Digital Literacy at the iSchool retired this fall, and was honored with a Festschrift celebration in September. Small joined the faculty in 1986, and founded the Center for Digital Literacy, an interdisciplinary, collaborative research and development center, in 2003. n Dean Liz Liddy presents Ruth Small with her Festschrift, a bound document outlining her scholarly achievements, at a celebration held in her honor.


ynn Silipigni Connaway, President of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), presents Professor Caroline Haythornthwaite (right) with the ASIS&T 2017 Research in Information Science Award. The award was presented at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in October, and recognizes her research contributions to the field of information science.

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Haythornthwaite Honored by ASIS&T.

Bence Oliver ’95 High Point Sourcing at Astra Capital.


Sawyer Awarded NSF Grant to Study Workers in the Gig Economy DRIVING A CAR FOR RIDEsharing companies Uber or Lyft. Completing a programming assignment on the freelance marketplace Fiverr. Performing data entry tasks on the Mechanical Turk digital worker platform. These are all examples of jobs that people are working on in the gig economy. The growing number and variety of gig-work outlets online is making it easier for users to connect with people who want to pay them to do any number of tasks. A recent Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults found that nearly 1 in 10 have earned money within the past year from a digital platform. Another nearly one-in-five Americans earned money by selling something in an online marketplace, while one percent have rented out their properties on a home-sharing site like AirBnB. When you add together all of the workers taking part in the various online marketplace and gig-work platforms, 24 percent of American adults earned money this way last year. iSchool faculty member Steven Sawyer was recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how people pursue work in the gig economy, and what challenges need to be overcome to make this kind of work successful for the workers that are doing it. Sawyer’s research will focus particularly on understanding how workers from disadvantaged backgrounds are prepared to participate in this quicklygrowing arena. “While we know that gig-based jobs are growing in popularity for workers across the spectrum, we don’t have a great understanding of what it takes to be a worker in this kind of environment, especially among disadvantaged populations,” explained Sawyer. “Our goal is to understand, in greater depth, what will be needed to make this kind

of work successful, and to identify the particular challenges and needs of workers who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as single parents, or rural workers, for example.” How these workers obtain and organize their resources, how they use digital tools and services, and where they work, are all areas that Sawyer and his research team plan to study. “These workers often work outside of typical office settings. Their workspaces include coffee shops, libraries, co-working centers, and other on-thego places,” said Sawyer. “Some have routine circuits of travel and can rely on co-working spaces, while some are more nomadic. Either way, they must organize and reconfigure their work resources, creating ‘mobile offices’ that provide cognitive space, physical space, communications, and direct work resources.” A second goal Sawyer’s work is to develop better methods for collecting data on gig workers, and how to understand the alternative uses of the digital platforms, applications, and devices these workers use.

“We see our work contributing to policies and programs focused on educating, training and preparing a more digitally-enabled workforce of the future, as it is clear that these new digital platforms and gig-work opportunities are only going to get more popular as their adoption steadily increases.” —STEVE SAWYER, PROFESSOR

“We see our work contributing to policies and programs focused on educating, training and preparing a more digitally-enabled workforce of the future,” noted Sawyer. “As it is clear that these new digital platforms and gig-work opportunities are only going to get more popular as their adoption steadily increases.” The NSF grant, for just over $52,000, was awarded under the Foundation’s EAGER program. EAGER, “Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research,” funding is provided to researchers to support exploratory work in early stages on untested but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. n


Professor Steve Sawyer’s research explores the growing gig economy and how workers become successful.

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Making a Difference Through Coding Education BY SOPHIE ESTEP ’20


ccording to the National Center for Women in Technology’s 2016 analysis, only 26% of professional computing occupations in the United States are held by women. This statistic is shocking in the current age of educational equality, but is on a steady rise thanks to organizations devoted to bringing technology to females across the country. One national program, Girls Who Code, is dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology once and for all. What’s the best way to do this? Leaders and professionals at Girls Who Code have been trying to answer this question since the program’s founding in 2012. They believe this non-dismissible gap can be fixed by teaching school-aged girls the wonders Participants in Emily Simens’ Girls Who Code summer program in Brooklyn.

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and powers of technology. This is precisely how sophomore Emily Simens spent this past summer – as a teaching assistant for the J.P. Morgan Chase Brooklyn chapter of the Girls Who Code program. The empowering cause of the organization is close to the heart for Simens, a dual major at the School of Information Studies and the Whitman School of Management. After participating in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program when she was in high school, Simens attributes her love of technology to the program’s influence on its participants. “[This program] inspired me to study technology in college and apply to the iSchool,” she said. “After spending a year at the

“I’m really looking forward to being a part of a program that has such a lasting impact on girls. Being able to make a difference in other students’ lives really excites me.” —EMILY SIMENS ’20 iSchool and being involved in the It Girls program I knew I wanted to spend my time on something really meaningful this summer. It combines my love for technology with my passion for non-profit organizations and making positive changes in the world.” As far as summer volunteer programs go, this is meaningful indeed. 93% of Summer Immersion Program participants say they are interested in a computer science major because of the program, a direct success of the Girls Who Code influence. Simens realizes what her time and effort is going to. “I’m really looking forward to being a part of a program that has such a lasting impact on girls. Being able to make a difference in other students’ lives really excites me.” As of 2015, Girls Who Code’s programming and clubs had an impact on the lives of over 12,000 girls in four short years. With this record, Emily’s work is sure to make an impact. Simens’ training for her first-ever teaching experience included an intensive weekend in Atlanta. “We went through some coding projects, learned how to plan lessons, practiced teaching, and participated in a presentation from the Perception Institute,” she recalled. “It was amazing to be able to connect with other likeminded teaching teams who are passionate about technology.” Through this training, Simens learned that she would be teaching many of the specific skills she has learned throughout

her iSchool education. “We are teaching the students how to code in Python. One of the first projects they dive into is creating a photo filter. I feel confident teaching that topic since I took IST 256,” stated Simens. IST 256 is an application programming course required for all iSchool undergraduates. “Another important skill I learned during 256 was how to use GitHub. The students will be using it this summer to collaborate when they work on group projects.” While this summer was one to remember for Emily, she also hopes to make it memorable for the students she will be teaching. This experience will definitely affect her plans for her post-iSchool future. She is consistently inspired by the founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani. “[Saujani] has served as a public advocate, given commencement speeches, a TED talk, and so much more. She’s an amazing role model, and always answers my emails even though she’s probably the busiest person I know!” Simens gushed. “I definitely see myself creating or starting something in the future. Working at a really innovative non-profit organization with so many brilliant people will be an amazing experience,” she anticipated. n


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o T d n a p x E s p i r T n o i s r e m m I

By Barbara B


hat would inspire 20 students to commit their precious last week of summer to a 100-hour work week, running non-stop from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and preparing each night for 20–25 meetings the next day? Hairol Ma ’19, a Silicon Valley native, was curious about the tech scene in Portland and Seattle. For Kristen Unangst ’18, the iSchool’s three-credit, inaugural Peak 2 Peak immersion trip, August 13–19, was “so important because I would be visiting the coolest cities in the world, touring companies that are potential future employers or competitors, and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.” For all the participants, the trip offered the chance to explore the companies, cultures, passions, lifestyles, vibes and employment possibilities of two of

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America’s fastest-growing eco­systems for entrepreneurs and information technology professionals. The students met engineers, designers and data scientists, as well as professionals in sales, research, human resources, and other tangential functions. They met people in roles from CEOs to interns – many of them alumni of the iSchool and other Syracuse University programs. The iSchool has been a pioneer in the immersion trip space, thanks in large part to Shay Colson G ’10, who helped to develop the idea when he was still on campus. It became a reality while he was living in San Francisco and working as the iSchool’s west coast alumni representative, helping to plan the first trip, Spring Break in Silicon Valley. “SU Abroad was great, but there wasn’t a professional focus,” he recalled. “The iSchool is an empowerment fac­­ tory, more so than a start-up factory, so our real goal was to send the spirit of Silicon Valley back with the students.”

In Spring 2011, Colson escorted the first group of eight students on a five-day immersion. They met alumni and built lasting relationships with then-nascent companies such as Twitter, which had only about 200 employees at the time. Today, the model is perfected and Colson is still involved. Thanks to generous support from iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy, as well as former students, alumni and friends, about 80 students per year have access to immersion trips to Silicon Valley (Spring Break in Silicon Valley), New York City (EntreTech NYC), and Portland/Seattle (Peak 2 Peak), and next fall, the iSchool will introduce a Chicago immersion. Depending on the destination, students pay just $550 to $750 for five days, including airfare, meals and accommodations. Unlike the first Silicon Valley experience six years ago, the Peak 2 Peak itinerary featured mostly mature companies—Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks and Microsoft in Seattle;

the pacific northwest


without being imbedded for several days in the Pacific Northwest. “Wash­ ington and Oregon are clearly not the Bay Area, not Southern California, and not New York. We are built on forestry and maritime industries, and on intellectual capital. We evolved naturally. Doing things out here lets you do them differently.”

Preparing for immersion Before traveling, the Peak 2 Peak students worked in small groups to research some of the anchor companies they would visit. “In order to sustain meaningful conversation, the students need to be ultra-prepared,” said Julie Walas Huynh, director of student and alumni engagement for the iSchool, who escorts most immersion trips. “They need solid understanding of what has made each company successful, and to be able to see and explain the ways younger companies might apply those strategies.”


and Nike and Intel in Portland—and much of the conversation focused on how innovation can be sustained and scaled over many decades. There also were visits to younger Portland-based companies too, including Smarsh, founded in 2000 by iSchool alumnus and Board of Advisors member Steve Marsh ’97. Culture also came through on visits to collaborative spaces that support entrepreneurs, including the Portland Incubator Experiment, and the local iteration of ImpactHub, the socially conscious innovation lab with more than 100 locations around the world. Also, because of the critical role universities play in backing innovation and generating talent, the itinerary included the University of Washington in Seattle. Colson, who now lives in Bell­ ing­ham, Wash., and works remotely for the U.S. Dept. of Treasury, said he wanted the first Peak 2 Peak trip to communicate the strong sense of place that students could never understand

Immersion trips also have a classroom component, as students research companies before they embark on the trip, and prepare presentations and posters to share when they return.

The level of preparation by the students impressed College of Engin­ eering and Computer Science alumnus Aaron Tersteeg ’96, Internet of Things developer program senior manager at Intel Corporation. Preparation for the three-and-a-half-hour visit was critical for Tersteeg too. “The students had invested time and energy and preparation, and were squeezing every drop of value out of the trip,” said Tersteeg, who graduated


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The 2017 Peak 2 Peak trip at Microsoft Headquarters. Micro­soft host Erin McLaughlin ’07 is at far right.

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with a BS and MS in engineering and information resource management. “At happy hour the evening before, my goal was to learn all of their names and focus areas, so I could reflect back and try to speak to their interests.” The Intel visit, which was voted “favorite stop” by several of the students, included a conversation with Kumud Srinivasan ’84, who earned her MS in information management from the iSchool, and was president of Intel India from 2012–2016. Two interns inspired the students for near-term success by presenting and answering questions about their summer project, a computer-vision robot. “Intel is massive,” said Tersteeg. “We are the largest employer in Oregon, and we employ 100,000 people in 120 countries around the world. So this wasn’t a visit to ‘a company,’ it was a sample of how to get integrated into a job and a career. By focusing on their individual career paths, personal skills, mindset and vision, our speakers established a real connection with the students.”


Tersteeg, too, shared his story, from deciding to major in engineering at Syracuse, to moving to Portland in 2001 to join the start-up Pop Art, to his position today, which, he said, offers him the perfect combination of strategic thinking, applied technology, business, and information resource management. With more than 20 years work experience under his belt, Tersteeg advises all students to perfect their communications skills. “In the real world, you have to have a brand and an identity, and be associated with a deliverable,” he said. “If you can’t tell your story, no one will remember you.” Clearly, the students didn’t forget Tersteeg. Within a few weeks of the trip, about a quarter had connected with him on LinkedIn, and he continues to receive and answer individual emails. Tersteeg isn’t the only immersion host who has developed a lasting rapport with participants. College of Arts and Sciences alumna Erin McLaughlin ’07, university recruiter at Microsoft and host of that visit, also

Learn more about Shay Colson G’10 on page 26.

“Washington and Oregon are clearly not the Bay Area, not Southern California, and not New York. We are built on forestry and maritime industries, and on intellectual capital. We evolved naturally. Doing things out here lets you do them differently.” — SHAY COLSON G ’10


to start a business with. Relationships do not need to be strictly personal or professional; they can and should be both! This idea of working with others in a variety of different settings is exciting and absolutely a huge takeaway for me from this trip.” Ma, a junior double major in advertising (Newhouse School) and information management and technology (iSchool), discovered “an element of authenticity and joy…missing from Silicon Valley.” Having grown up in Freemont, Calif., she recalled the “duck effect—in which on the outside, the individual appears calm and easygoing, but underneath is paddling furiously in an attempt to remain afloat.” She appreciated the “beautiful nature and relative quietness” of the Pacific Northwest, and she also discovered that a company’s values matter deeply to her.

“I learned that I shouldn’t just work at a company because I see it as relevant or popular,” she wrote. “I truly realized that I’ll never be able to fully enjoy working somewhere that lacked the core principles I identified with.” As Colson hoped, the Pacific Northwest’s sense of place spoke to the students loud and clear. In fact, the Peak 2 Peak trip created an ecosystem lexicon: Collaboration, innovation, passion, energy, values, hobbyists, intellectuals, geeks, thrifted jeans, cold brew, natural beauty. No doubt those words will find their way into the emails, resumes and cover letters of at least 20 Syracuse University students as they look ahead to lives of meaning and purpose. n


received “extremely professional follow up.” After graduating with her BA in history, she now applies her liberal arts education to recruiting for all pipelines at Microsoft, from software designers and mechanical engineers to human resource professionals. “Applying to work at a company is a bit like applying to a university,” said McLaughlin. “Ask yourself, ‘what in the company’s mission appeals to you and how can you apply your skills there.’” She advised students to figure that out first, and then connect with people in those roles, on LinkedIn or through the Syracuse University alumni network. McLaughlin’s advice squares perfectly with what iSchool faculty and staff have in mind when putting together the immersion groups. Walas Huynh, the alumni engagement direc­tor said, “we try to bring diverse students with different perspectives, majors, and minors. That way, they all fall in love with different pieces—whether the people, or their enthusiasm, or the physical spaces we visit. Sometimes the content is very structured, other visits may be much looser. Students begin to get a feel for what they like.”

Student reflections So how did the dream and the reality compare for students Kristen Unangst and Hairol Ma? Unangst, a Whitman senior majoring in supply chain management and finance, wrote in her post-trip reflection paper, “As it turned out, my idealistic view of the trip was nothing short of reality.” She found clarity about her career path and a view of innovation unlike anything she had seen before. Unangst wrote, “In the past I viewed networking as a way to advance oneself in a particular company, career or industry. After seeing the way that relationships are treated in the Pacific Northwest, I now understand that networking…can be a way to support a business that I love, a chance to hear about a job in a completely different industry, or even a way to find someone

Aaron Tersteeg ’96 (right) talks with students during the alumni networking event in Portland.


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BLISTS students celebrate the 25th anniversary at a general body meeting in October.

BLISTS Marks 25 Years of Supporting

Students, Growing Diversity


2017 – 2018 BLISTS leadership team: Mariel Rosario, Melanie Moreaux, Shanyah Saunders, and Hawa Touray.

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years ago, an intrepid group of iSchool undergraduate students wanted to help address the issue of low recruitment and retention rates of African American and Latino students in the school. In the fall of 1992, they began holding study sessions to provide support for each other in a field where they could find few mentors with whom they could identify. They called the group BLISTS (Black and Latino Information Studies Support). This fall, current BLISTS students came together to mark the 25-year milestone with a ceremony at one of their regular weekly meetings during the semester. As BLISTS members ate cake and posed for photos, they talked amongst themselves about what the group meant, and how they had come to join it. “BLISTS enhanced my experience in the iSchool by simply being so relevant,” said Shanyah Saunders ’19, an iSchool undergraduate with minors in public communications and global security studies. “It’s relevant to my school work because I can use it to put what I’ve learned in the classroom to the test, and it’s relevant to the process of beginning a career in the technology industry because I have the ability to reach out to BLISTS alumni for advice.” In the early years of BLISTS, being relevant and preparing students for the careers they would someday hold was exactly what the founding group of students were hoping to do. Started just as the iSchool launched its first undergraduate offering, BLISTS helped to fill a need by showing African American and Latino students what the future of information technology might look like.



“The great thing about BLISTS is that it provided me with exactly what I needed at each stage of my college and professional career,” said Anthony Percival ’95 G’97, now an IT Director at Kroll, Inc. in New York City. “In the early 90’s the undergrad program at the iSchool was relatively new, so while grasping the concept of Information Studies as a freshman was a challenge, describing what Information Studies was to your friends was even harder,” Percival recalled. “I think this uncertainty about what this emerging field was, and whether or not it had a future, helped bind us together. BLISTS meant study groups, a place to share notes, and a vehicle to volunteer time.” J.D. ROSS

“BLISTS has offered me the oppor­tunity to host many interns throughout the years, this has been the most re­ward­ing gift of the organization. I’m always impressed at how confident and ‘battle ready’ our students are.” — ANTHONY PERCIVAL ’95 G’97 J.D. ROSS

These study groups and the overall atmosphere that BLISTS created within the school for its members brought them close together as they learned to leverage each others strengths and areas of knowledge. “I think that BLISTS helped ignite a passion for community learning,” said Jason Mills ’95 G’96, now Executive Director of Machine Learning & Advanced Analytics for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York City. “The communities we came from did not have strong science, technology, or engineering resources. However, we each had a variety of skills — some were good at databases, some experimenting with web development in the early days of the Internet, others were good at hardware. We came together as a group and we were able to help each other understand the curriculum and build useful professional skills.” It wasn’t only the curriculum that helped to inspire learning, but the leadership roles that many of the BLISTS early members took on as the organization grew.

Reggie Acloque G’99 (left) and Jason Mills ’95 (above) talk with BLISTS students at a meeting when they visited campus in October.


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“. . . I developed key critical skills, including leadership, budgeting, interviewing, and project manage­ ment skills by being a BLISTS board member, and I was often responsible for leading key technology work­ shops and events.” — REGGIE ACLOQUE G’99

Join us for a

“BLISTS allowed me the opportunity to understand how to best develop skills beyond classroom learning,” said Reggie Acloque G’99, Vice President of Global Services for GE Digital. “For example, I developed key critical skills, including leadership, budgeting, interviewing, and project management skills by being a BLISTS board member, and I was often responsible for leading key technology workshops and events.” Once they left the Syracuse Univer­sity campus and headed out into their first careers, early BLISTS members quickly found that the community they had developed while they were in school was just as useful to them in their working lives. “We all stuck together in the years after graduation, I knew what everyone was up to,” said Lisa Lindsay-Lavelanet ’93, a program manager for Sun Trust bank in Atlanta. “So while I went towards the application and project management side, Anthony [Percival] went into the networking side. We would constantly be in communication, sharing knowledge with each other. I could tell him what I knew about the application side of things, he could talk to me about the networking side, he was my personal helpdesk.” In addition to networking with each other, once early BLISTS members began to advance in their careers, they were able to reconnect with the organization and host students in internship positions at their companies. “BLISTS has offered me the opportunity to host many interns throughout the years, this has been the most re­ward­ing gift of the organization,” said Percival. “I’m always impressed at how confident and ‘battle ready’ our students are.”

B L I S T S ful Return!

Saturday, April 28, 2018 Reunions Workshops Evening Gala Details at: BLISTS25 E-mail Julie Walas Huynh with questions:

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Alumni involvement isn’t limited to recruiting and hosting interns and full-time hires – many former members return for events like Coming Back Together (CBT), the reunion for African American and Latino alumni that is held by the University every three years. And others are frequent visitors to campus, as members of the iSchool’s Board of Advisors. “I am very proud of the BLISTS leadership team,” said Mills, also a member of the iSchool Board of Advisors. “I remember when we were just starting the organization, and the challenges we had finding resources and professionals in the industry to learn from. Although progress has been made since then, students of color still experience similar challenges, and I see in the current team the passion and focus to continue to make a difference.” Fellow Board of Advisors member Acloque agrees, and sees himself in a position to help students make a difference. “It’s vividly clear to me that BLISTS members are curious and have a strong desire to learn,” he said. “Often, what’s missing is an avenue for our members to feed their curiosity. As an iSchool student, I didn’t really have a full appreciation of the different paths that I could take in the technology field. But as an alumnus, I can help create multiple paths for students to foster their learning and help them see the possibilities they may not see in their day-to-day student and academic life.” Saunders, current BLISTS president, agrees. “A recent visit from BLISTS alumni and founders during CBT helped me put faces to the names that I already admire,” she said. “I learned that I have the ability to expand my professional and personal network on many more levels by being a part of a group or organization. The alumni also taught me why they love CBT – it isn’t just to reconnect with former classmates but to meet and build relationships with the new generation of BLISTS members in an effort to keep the organization going for years to come.” Current BLISTS members are working with alumni to plan a special 25th anniversary event in the spring that will allow a wider group of alumni and students to gather together and learn from each other. Called “a BLISTSful Return,” the event will be a day of reunions and workshops that culminates in an evening gala for BLISTS alumni, students, and friends. The date is set for Saturday, April 28. More information on the day, along with registration details, is available at n



Connecting with the iSchool BY SARAH WEBER

A Sarah Weber

t the iSchool we believe in a holistic approach to our industry partnerships, connecting companies with students, alumni, and faculty in a variety of ways to create meaningful engagements. While the focus of numerous industry relationships is recruiting, our holistic model provides for many opportunities including experiential learning projects, faculty and student research, curriculum development, and academic programs. We value the expertise, resources, and insight that industry collaborations bring, enriching the academic careers of current



n addition to attending the iSchool’s career fair each semester, or as a single point of engagement, schedule time to meet with iSchool students—oncampus, off-campus, or virtually! n Register with the iSchool’s Office of Employer Relations for iSchool Career Fairs (Fall and Spring semesters) n Register now for the iSchool’s 2018 Spring Career Fair Wednesday, January 31, 2018 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Goldstein Auditorium, Schine Student Center n Company days – including information sessions, 1-on-1 office hours, classroom visits, information tabling, and more

students, the professional careers of our alumni, and the talent of our industry partners. Industry Insights is a new section of Connections created to inform and share our initiatives centered around industry engagements. It will include information, stories, and opportunities regarding a variety of iSchool-industry collaborations with a focus on sparking new – or enhancing current — synergies between students, alumni, and industry colleagues. I invite you to connect with us through the opportunities below and those that will be



ollaborate with us both in the classroom and beyond. Develop and enhance innovative experiences that enrich iSchool students’ academic careers with real-world endeavors. Ensure our innovative curriculum continues to align with industry trends and prepare our graduates with the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. n Experiential Learning Opportunities, including class projects n Immersion Experiences & Road Trips n Job Shadowing program n Guest lectures n Industry-focused programs

highlighted in future sections. I look forward to having you be a part of the iSchool community during this innovative and transformative time in the field of information and technology. Please don’t hesitate to contact me. Sarah Weber Director of Employer Relations 315-443-5801



ave you considered teaching at the iSchool? We are actively seeking part-time, non-tenure track adjunct faculty members to teach courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Areas of need include, but are not limited to: n Data Science n Information Security n Cloud Management n Information Policy n Blockchain For new or experienced faculty, the iSchool offers a robust support system to assist with instructional methods and materials. The iSchool’s Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning was founded to provide faculty members with the needed resources and support to excel in their teaching.



here are over 10,000 iSchool alumni around the world, working in a variety of industries, including financial services, government, academic & public libraries, research & development, healthcare, nonprofit, insurance, consulting, media & entertainment, hospitality, sports, and entrepreneurial start-ups. In an effort to better meet the needs of our alumni and industry partners, we recently launched a pilot program to connect companies looking for experienced hires to our network of talented iSchool alumni. With nearly 4,500 members in the iSchool’s LinkedIn group, we are now posting experienced hire job opportunities to the Jobs section.


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iSchool alumni participants in the 2017 Fall Career Fair



elf-described as “America’s Un-carrier” T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The company is a national provider of wireless voice, messaging, and data services and in recent years, has begun to hire iSchool alumni, including Kenny Dsouza. A 2015 graduate of the iSchool’s Information Management graduate program, Kenny works at T-Mobile’s headquarters in Bellevue, Washington as a Systems Analyst in their Digital Architecture division. Since graduating, Kenny has remained in touch with the iSchool and when the time came to develop the new Peak 2 Peak Immersion Trip, he graciously volunteered T-Mobile to be one

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of the anchor visits of the trip. “It was my great pleasure to help organize the peak to peak event for the iSchool at T-Mobile. Knowing that I was once in the same shoes as the students a while back, and helping these bright students find their dream job and guide them in their career path, was a small way of me giving back to my alma mater,” Kenny said. Kenny and his colleagues at T-Mobile provided students with a memorable and informative visit, sharing their enthusiasm and passion for their company and customers, as well as their insight into the industry and career advice. n


Thank You to Our Corporate Partners and Employers We thank our corporate partners and employers who sponsor programs at the iSchool and visit our career events to hire students for internships and full-time positions.

Employers AIG Air Force Research Laboratory — Information Directorate Air Force ROTC Anoplate Arcadis, Inc. Assured Information Security, Inc. AXA BAE Systems Bank of America Merrill Lynch Barrett Industries Corporation Barton and Loguidice, D.P.C. Becton Dickenson Ben Dyer Associates, Inc. Bergmann Associates BL Companies Black Knight Financial Services Blackstone LaunchPad Booz Allen Hamilton BorgWarner Morse Systems BrainLAB, Inc. C&S Companies Cadence Design Systems Cascade Maverik Lacrosse Cigna Cisco Meraki CladNetwork Cognizant Technology Solutions Complex Biosystems Inc Consigli Construction Corning Incorporated Cosentini Associates/Tetra Tech, Inc. Crowe Horwath LLP D.A. Collins Construction Co., Inc. Daikin Applied DeGruyter Deloitte Consulting Dixon Advisory USA Eaton Corporation Epic Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Exelon EY (Ernst & Young) FDM Group

Corporate Partners Federal Reserve Board Fidelity Investments First Data FTI Consulting, Inc. Fulton General Dynamics Electric Boat GILBANE COMPANY Goldman Sachs Gryphon Sensors Gutchess Lumber Co., Inc. Halma HH Brown Hill-Rom, Inc Hubbell Incorporated/ Hipotronics IBM INFICON INROADS Integration Point International Wire Group, Inc. Johnson & Johnson Johnson Matthey JPMorgan Chase & Co. Karpinski Engineering KC Enginneering and Land Surveying PC KIK Custom Products - Marietta Hospitality Knowles Cazenovia, Inc. KPMG LLP Lockheed Martin Luxottica M.S. Hall & Associates Marlabs Inc Marquardt Switches Maryland State Highway Administration MercyWorks, Inc. MIT Lincoln Laboratory National Grid Naval Intelligence Activity New York Air Brake, LLC. New York Air National Guard New York Army National Guard New York State Department of

Environmental Conservation New York State Department of Transportation Norfolk Southern Novelis O’Brien & Gere Optanix POWER Engineers, Inc. PPC, A Belden Brand Pratt & Whitney Protiviti PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) Quanterion Solutions Inc. (QSI) Rapid Response Monitoring Raytheon Company SecureWorks - Dell Technologies Securonix Siege Technologies SRC Inc SUNY Oswego Synchrony Financial Teach For America The Chazen Companies The Hanover Insurance Group The Hartford The Raymond Corporation The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company United Technologies Corporation (UTC) University Student Living US Air Force US Department of the Navy USEReady UTC Climate, Controls & Security (Carrier) Verizon Xerox


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s I’m finishing my first year in my role for the iSchool, and writing my first column for Connections, I’m struck by how quickly this year has flown by as I’ve spent time with many of you, and how many of you I’m really excited to meet in the next year. I wanted to take this first column to catch everyone up on me and my iSchool journey and my excitement about this role. As some of you know I’m a long-time iSchooler. I’ve been part of the staff for the past nine years, originally hired on to work on undergraduate recruitment. Through roles in recruitment, advising, program management, and student engagement, I’ve been able to work with so many of you to launch awesome initiatives for our students.

Julie Walas Huynh

It’s through some of our student engagement and immersion programs that I’ve been fortunate to meet so many of you as you’ve been hosts, guest speakers, and collaborators on programs like the MLB College Challenge, the It Girls Overnight Retreat, iSchool Road Trips, Spring Break in Silicon Valley, HINDSights, and so much more. In the next year, I want to meet and collaborate with even more of you! I’d love to have many of you be alumni job shadow program volunteers, breakfast guests during EntreTech NYC, attendees to an upcoming alumni event in both new (Denver, Portland and Chicago) and favorite (San Francisco, Seattle and New York) cities, or Road Trip site visit hosts right here in Syracuse in February, or

in Washington, D.C. in April. If you’ve got great ideas, great accomplishments to share, or great friends to connect the iSchool with, reach out to me any time. I’d love to hear from you. I’d like to be someone who’s dedicated to communicating iSchool and University news to you, who offers fun engagement opportunities to connect back with the students, the school and each other, and who is there for you as a resource when you might need some direction or connection yourself. Please don’t hesitate to contact me –, or 315-443-4133. Thank you for a fantastic first year, and I look forward to what the next one will bring! n

Our first iSchool event in Portland – where I got to meet Ken Kane, president of the Stumptown Orange alumni club.

With students on our inaugural Peak 2 Peak trip in August.

With Dean Liddy and alumnae who came back to help with the It Girls Overnight Retreat weekend.

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B.S. in Information Management and Technology

Jillian D’Onfro ’13 has joined CNBC Digital in Silicon Valley as a reporter covering Google / Alphabet. She previously spent three years at Business Insider as a senior technology reporter.

Bret Costain ’91 recently joined Yewno as Director, Operations and Content Fulfillment in Redwood City, Calif.

Thaney Cockrell ’15 took a new position at Beacon Platform, a fin-tech startup in New York City that is building a cloud-based trading and risk management platform. Emily Fesnak ’17 moved to Scottsdale, Arizona after graduation, and began her professional career working for Intel as a software developer.

HINDSights PARTICIPANT Zach Schleien ’15

Zach Schleien ’15 is in the IT Leadership Development Program at Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, NJ. He visited campus as part of the HINDSights Program, and spoke about his book, Hacking the Internship Process.


Shantanu Karmarkar ’16 began working at Deloitte in Cleveland, OH as a Business Analyst. Mihir Pathak ’17 has taken a position as project coordinator at B2B marketing technology platform firm Madison Logic in New York City.

DuWayne Harrison ’95

M.S. in Library and Information Science

DuWayne Harrison ’95, director of data center and cloud practices at Wipro, returned to the iSchool this fall to guest lecture in several classes.

Nancy Howe ’92, Outreach and Public Relations Librarian at the Baldwinsille (NY) Public Library was recognized with the Public Library Staff All-Star award by the Central New York Library Resources Council.

Chris Hertz ’97 has been named Chief Marketing Officer at cloud automation company DivvyCloud.

Emily Fesnak ’17


Sophia Hoeke ’17 lives in Philadelphia and works for URBN, Inc., as a quality assurance engineer. This fall, she began work towards her M.S. in Applied Data Science degree via the iSchool’s online graduate program.

M.S. in Information Management

HINDSights PARTICIPANT Michael Librizzi ’05

Michael Librizzi ’05 returned to campus as a guest of the iSchool’s HINDSights Alumni Visitor program. Librizzi is a Developer Products Lead at Google. Jack Aboutboul ’06 is Chief Technical Officer at Jem Accessories in New York City.

Paul Wachtler ’09 was recently promoted from Project Manager to Business Analytics Manager at Distil Networks. He writes, “they created this new position as a result of me introducing and spreading Tableau throughout the company. I get to leverage my Tableau and SQL skills on a daily basis now and I love it!” Koby Brandstein ’14 married Marlena Lurie in October. He is a Technical Integration Manager at naviHealth in Newton, MA. Sarenna Larson ’14 and her husband Silas welcomed baby girl Eloise in November.

Emily Drabinski ’03, Coordinator of Library Instruction at LIU Brooklyn, began a part-time role at the iSchool as an adjunct professor teaching online course sections for IST 618 (Information Policy). She was recently named as a 2017 Dewey Fellow by the New York State Library Association. Drabinski was noted as “an authoritative voice and advocate on library labor issues, and a champion for the rights of all those engaged in the profession,” in her nomination letter. Leslie Cartier ’08, and her library at C. W. Baker High School in Baldwinsville, NY, received the 2017 School Library of the Year award from the Central New York Library Resources Council. Cartier’s innovative learning commons includes a “Genius Bar” run by students, a stop-motion animation studio and learning zone. One nomination noted that usage of library resources, databases, and digital media has exploded in the past two years to positively affect student learning.


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Use the enclosed envelope to make your gift and let us know about your professional and personal accomplishments, such as promotions, awards, marriages, births, and adoptions, so that we can include them on our website, or in a future issue of Connections. Also, please keep us informed of any address or employment changes. • Visit to change or submit information. • Visit to participate in the online alumni community and make a gift to the school. • Information can also be submitted via e-mail to Julie Walas Huynh Director of Alumni and Student Engagement School of Information Studies Syracuse University 343L Hinds Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244 315-443-4133

iSchool 2017 Heather Turner ’08 was named as a 2017 Dewey Fellow by the New York State Library Association. Turner is a Library Media Special­ ist at Fabius-Pompey Middle School / High School in Fabius, NY. An excerpt from her nomination materials noted that she “can visualize innovative solutions to typical challenges, and create opportunities for students to engage and connect curriculum and passions.” Jane Verostek ’08, Associate Librarian at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Moon Library, was named an Academic Library Staff All-Star by the Central New York Library Resources Council. Katy Kelly ’10 is an Associate Professor and Communications & Outreach Librarian at the University of Dayton (OH). She was recently recognized as a “Forty Under 40 honoree” by the Dayton Business Journal. Rachael Altman ’12 has transitioned from academia to corporate libraries. She recently started as a market intelligence analyst at the law firm Sidley Austin in Chicago. Prior to this, she was a corporate research analyst at the accounting firm Grant Thornton where she traveled the world to train people at her firm’s international locations. Ashley Sperber ’12, was named School Library Staff All-Star by the Central New York Library Resources Council. Sperber is the Library Media Specialist at W. A. Wettel Elementary School Library in the VernonVerona-Sherrill Central School District. Alexa Lee Hirsch ’17 began working at the Clarkston Independence District Library in Michigan right after graduation. She recently received an ALA Libraries Ready to Code grant that she wrote with a coworker. The grant funds a creative coding adventure that teaches teens how to use Python to code a ‘choose your own adventure’ game. Anna Obermayer ’17 has accepted a position as University Archivist at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.

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Coming Back Together Reception H

eld every three years, the Coming Back Together (CBT) weekend brings African American and Latino alumni back to campus to celebrate their accomplishments and see how the University has grown and changed over the years. It also introduces current students to successful alumni to make connections and get their advice on making the most of their time after graduation. PHOTOS BY J.D. ROSS


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connectiONS Shay Colson G’10

On Relationships and Scaling Out BARBARA BROOKS


y almost any measure, Shay Colson G’10 is a complex guy. But, although the work he does is complicated, often confidential and highly advanced, there’s a certain simplicity to his goals and values. From his home base in Bellingham, Wash., Colson leads a disperse team of cybersecurity professionals across the country. His team serves hundreds of millions of customers for the U.S. Department of Treasury. That’s a whole lot of people for a guy who grew up in Idaho, where the population at the time was just over one million. But Colson takes the numbers in stride, focusing rather on the big vision: to balance ideas and innovation that could make life easier or faster for taxpayers, with the very real and hard-to-assess risk exposures for the government. The job, initially a two-year pay-back assignment in exchange for a grant Colson received to JULIE WALAS HUYNH

Shay Colson G’10 (right) with classmate Zachary Glick ’08 G’10. Colson and Glick reconnected at an alumni event during the iSchool’s Peak 2 Peak trip visit in Seattle this summer.

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attend the iSchool, connects perfectly with his personal philosophy that people and technology are intrinsically connected. “Most people think cybersecurity folks just want to say no, but that’s not true,” Colson said. “Someone at the table has to look critically at the technical and policy implications of ideas and decisions, even if those decisions would help get things done more quickly or easily.” Colson starts his day online at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., in order to sync up with the East Coast. But by afternoon, he can turn his attention to his kids—now two and four—or to local colleagues and friends who are ready to talk shop, brainstorm big ideas, maybe enjoy a beer. He also can focus on his own entrepreneurial ventures. “I work a lot,” says Colson, “but in a way that works for me.” Evidently, that’s true; he already has four startups and a handful of patents under his belt. His first was back in 2010, when he, Justin Breese ’09, G’10, and Andrew Farah ’09, G’11, shared a $4,000 grant from the University’s Orange Tree Fund to start Capesquared, a web services company. Since then, the three have stayed in touch and their ideas have become increasingly ambitious. In some ways, Colson is an unlikely startup superstar. But to draw that conclusion is to miss the importance of the very quality he credits for his success: the ability—through hard work—to overcome the lack of any material advantage. “I never did lemonade stands,” says Colson. “We lived out in the country, and no one would come by. But I do remember realizing I could sell baseball cards, from my own collection, door to door.” Knowing he needed a big school with lots of options, Colson studied the comparative history of ideas at the University of Washington, where he walked on to the rowing team. “I was tall, but not the tallest,” he recalls. “I was strong, but not the strongest. So, I had to be the hard-

est worker.” Even so, he dropped the sport after just one year to focus more on school. “I would never make it to the Olympics,” he said, “so studying was the better bet.” With his B.A. in hand, Colson still didn’t hear a particular career calling. He clerked for two years in Philadelphia where he learned that, while he didn’t want to be a lawyer, he liked working in a dynamic, people-focused field with a baseline of knowledge that could be applied across any case. “Law was too argumentative,” Colson said, “but technology had the same appeal. There was a body of ever-evolving foundational knowledge and no direct path for how to apply it. It was creative, collaborative and people focused.” <Could be good pull-quote? So, with no degree or pedigree in computer science or information technology, Colson again found himself “playing catch up.” His choice to attend the iSchool was in part because his wife could earn her graduate degree in nutrition science during the same two-year timeframe. It also meant temporarily leaving his beloved Pacific Northwest for Central New York. “I knew why I was there and what I wanted to get out of the program,” Colson said. And with the obligation to repay his two-year Scholarship for Service, funded by the National Security Foundation and the National Security Agency, he could throw himself into the work without worrying about looking for his first job. At the iSchool, Colson made invaluable connections with students, faculty, and administrators, and he learned that success in the startup world doesn’t necessarily mean immediate return. His biggest start-up to date is a perfect example of this. Since 2013, he has been working on patents and plans with three partners, including James Schmeling, who, in 2011, cofounded Syracuse University’s Institute


for Military Veterans and Families. Now based in Washington, D.C., Schmeling founded a company dedicated to developing new technologies related to 3D printing and packaging. That’s what brought Colson and Schmeling back together. The goal for the team’s new business—to “revolutionize the way things are made and distributed”—is no small feat. By press time, Colson expects the venture to receive a major capital infusion to build out the infrastructure of the idea. Colson explained it this way: “The number of high-end printers is rising, but they are still so expensive that they have to be used 24/7 to be cost effective. But what if you can, relatively locally, print the item, the packaging and the label, and local workers handle last-mile delivery? Then, through blockchain technology, you can create a proxy for trust: an entirely transparent system of smart contracts, records, transactions and even units of value. “So the goal,” he said, “is not to scale up, it’s to scale out. The people throughout the local ecosystems are empowered to think of great ideas, so when you do come into contact with humanity, you can focus on the ideas and concepts that will make the most amount of change possible.” How does a guy selling baseball cards door to door in Idaho come up with such a big idea? Colson credits the iSchool—and the relationships he made there—for the way he and his partners learned to think. “You learn skills and attitudes that will serve you your whole life. And the relationships you build may go dormant for a while, but they come back around years later, when a friend—or a friend of a friend—offers to help.” n

Ellie Thiele ’12 speaks with students about her Airbnb experience during her November HINDSights visit.

Thank you to our Fall 2017 HINDSights alumni visitor program participants. Mike Librizzi ’05 Head of Global Product Partnerships Google Zach Schleien ’15 Analyst, Business Technology Leadership Program Johnson & Johnson Ellie Thiele ’12 User Experience Researcher Airbnb Want to visit campus and share your career and life experiences with iSchool students? In addition to class visits and presentations, visiting alumni are treated to campus tours, meals with faculty members, and are able to spend time getting caught up on what has happened at the University since you graduated. Contact Julie Walas Huynh at jlwalas@syr. edu for more information.


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Connecting at Alumni Events Alumni Reception at ASIS&T

Mohammad Jarrahi G’13 with Professor Steve Sawyer.

Dean Liz Liddy with Fatima Espinoza-Vasquez G’06, G’16 and Renata Curty G’15.

Candy Schwartz G’86 with Matt Koll G’79 and Dean Liz Liddy.

Brian Dobreski G’06, Renata Curty G’15, and Kai Li G’14.

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iSchoolers Blythe Bennett, Barbara Settel, and Kim Pietro enjoy dinner with Bob Armao G’81, John Brock G’03, and Sonia Long G’74 during NYLA’s annual conference.


Upcoming Alumni Events Mark your calendars for these upcoming alumni events. Keep up with all iSchool events by visiting

New York City

Alumni Reception in Syracuse Join the iSchool’s Hometown Road Trip for an alumni gathering and panel discussion. Friday, February 2 Alumni Reception During ALISE Conference See us in Denver at the ALISE annual conference. Thursday, February 8 Alumni Reception in Silicon Valley Meet our students on their Spring Break in Silicon Valley trip. Thursday, March 15 Alumni Reception in Washington, D.C. We’ll be in the nation’s capital with a group of students, stop by for an evening reception Thursday, April 5 BLISTS Reunion and Celebration

Dean Liz Liddy with Jason Mills ’95, Cory Crosland ’05, and Amanda Quick G’16 Assistant Dean for Advancement Kim Pietro with iSchool Board of Advisors members Graham Warner ’02 G’13 and Mike Harasimowicz ’89 at the New York City performance of ‘Separated’ in November.

A BLISTSful Return is a reunion, workshop, and gala marking 25 years of BLISTS as a student organization. Saturday, April 28

Antje Lemke Memorial Celebration Honoring the life and work of Professor Emerita Antje Lemke. Thursday, May 3 Alumni Reception in Chicago Meet students in town on our newest immersion trip at an evening alumni reception. Thursday, May 17 We send event notifications via e-mail—do we have your correct e-mail address and location in our records? Update your information at: so we can invite you to events in your region.

Thanks to Ken Kane ’75 (left), president of the Stumptown Orange Alumni Club for helping to organize a great alumni gathering in Portland during the iSchool’s Peak 2 Peak trip.

Portland Alumni Event     THE iSCHOOL @ SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY 

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Looking Back 42 Years Judith Adams-Volpe G’75 Catherine Croy G’75 Sonia Bigus Long G’75

I Sonia, Catherine, and Professor Lemke.

Memorial Celebration for Professor Emerita Antje Lemke


he iSchool and the Syracuse University Libraries have planned a memorial celebration honoring the life and work of Professor Emerita Antje Lemke. It will be held on Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 4:00 PM in Bird Library on the Syracuse University campus. For details, please contact Barbara Settel at

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t was the best of times . . . at the absolute inception of technology in the realm of information. Dean Robert Taylor had just developed and installed the first computerized circulation system at Lehigh Univers­ity, and he brought his vision and directed fervor for automated information systems to the innovative program at Syracuse. We were initially drawn to Syracuse for its apparent “academic” and information research strengths, which distinguished it from most other strictly “practice” oriented librarianship programs. We entered an atmosphere of palpable enthusiasm and expertise that was fostering innovative, creative, and “outside the box” exploration of the dawning world of technological innovation. The incredible plus for the three of us and all our classmates was the program’s merger of humanistic knowledge values into the shaping and design of information technologies and delivery systems. Right from the start, Professor Roger Greer in our Reference class, urged us to boldly ask not “Why?” but “Why not?” when offered innovative or even shocking initiatives in our professional practice. Thus, our touchstone was set—change is a nourishing constant. We were trained to be the vanguard and our subsequent careers achieved a legacy of expansive access and use of ever emerging knowledge-based information systems and products. At the core of our experience, was the exceptional fusion of faculty—their personalities, wide-ranging experience, expertise, vision for the coming information revolution, and their remarkably welcoming interest in each of us and our professional futures. They gave us intangible gifts of confidence, bravery to

Judith, Sonia, and Catherine still keep in touch (and travel together) 40 years after their graduation.

influence change, faith in our knowledge values. We emerged from our program believing in ourselves and in what we could offer to a transformative professional culture. The three of us each took quite distinctive paths in the program and in our subsequent careers. One of us followed the academic/research libraries direction, another was all “management,” and the other focused on public libraries. Despite the seeming traditional nature of these studies, all were instilled with the potential of technology to transform systems, practices, and knowledge delivery. The “management” student among us recalls that a management/administration course was the only required class and its conclusion is still palpable in her memory: “The final exam was for everyone to participate as a team in grading the class on a curve—meaning a certain number had to fail. I was never sure if most classmates got the point that we were supposed to be practicing being a management team. It was a session of “you can’t do that,” “its not legal.” There was much hollering and, I swear, I thought folks were going to jump out the windows! I couldn’t believe folks were so emotional/excitable and, I guess, worried they would be the failures. It was a perfect learning experience about working with a group. I thought it was pretty

Sonia and Judith at their “More Class than Cash” exhibit in Bird Library.

avant-garde for the time (perhaps I was just too Southern). The room was so charged that Professor George D’Elia (who sported a long ponytail and dungarees) backed down at the end and squashed the curve.” Central to our time at Syracuse were professors Antje Lemke and Marta Dosa. We took numerous courses with them and they embraced us as colleagues and friends. They gave us so much confidence, pride, and also a devotion to our profession. Their lives and their paths to Syracuse were so rich in experience, and they valued us as individuals fostering our emerging professional talents with compassion and rigor. They regularly invited us to social gatherings in their homes. At Antje’s home we could walk around a room and notice treasured photographs of individuals. Asking “who is that?” Antje’s response could be “that’s Pablo Casals, he gave cello lessons to my sister;” or, “that’s Albert Schweitzer” with whom Antje had a strong friendship and scholarly partnership. At Marta’s home, her Eastern European culture

was palpable, and her flight to freedom out of Hungary became tangible to us. Antje arranged for two of us to create a “Rare Books” exhibit right in the hallowed halls of the Special Collections area of Bird Library. Now, this room has been dedicated as the Antje Bultmann Lemke Seminar Room. “More Class than Cash: A Collection for the Novice Bibliophile” celebrated the contemporary private press collection at Syracuse, and featured Leonard Baskin’s Spiral Press among others. The experience of exploring the rare holdings, selecting specific items with an eye to art as well as information, and mounting the exhibit to be both pleasing to the eye and informative, was the first fledgling step to many exhibits and research ventures in our future. Antje even encouraged one of us to write and publish an article about the exhibit in Syracuse’s Courier magazine—a first venture leading to a publication career focused on the merger of technology and humanistic values. Our “social media” at the time was pickup volleyball games, parties, and group assignments. Our class was remarkably diverse in terms of experience, academic interests, age, professional directions. The school was smaller then, we needed the support of each other, and we grew as people and as professionals as a result of our magical time at Syracuse. Who could ever forget Sonia’s Chicken Kiev, Catherine’s linguini and clam sauce, the icy road trips to Pulaski to evaluate its public library, the broken down cars that classmates had to somehow keep running, or the two former neighborhood homes on Comstock and Euclid that served as the school’s “campus.” We dubbed one of our professors (Pauline Atherton Cochrane) with the nickname, the “Barracuda.” Obviously, she was tough and not seemingly as welcoming as other faculty. But, we all recognized that she was a fierce technology adaptor. She had

been awarded a government grant to develop a very early, maybe even first, computerized information system—it may have been the eventual MEDLINE. In an intensive two or three week summer seminar she taught us how to transform information (bibliographic citations then) on to punch cards, and to develop computer programs to transform these cards into an information product. But, graduate student life could be dangerous. Marta’s Government Documents class was held from 3-6 PM, and since most of us were taking five courses a semester, staying awake in this well-known fading “down time” was a real struggle. If you fell asleep, Marta would promptly bop you on the head with a deftly thrown piece of chalk. As for “social media,” perhaps we could have done better over the years in this arena. We sheepishly admit that “my new librarian is Google.” Two of us took Professor Jeffrey Katzer’s “Evaluating Information” course. One of us was assigned a project to use a recorder to speed up delivery of spoken information, thus distorting it and affecting its processing by the receiver. There was also the “framing” of TV reporting to exclude or “focus” information—“data in context.” So, looking back 40+ years, in light of today’s “fake news” and “reality TV,” we were warned and didn’t sound the alarm. We pass the torch to recent graduates and present iSchool students to address and reshape these information trends. Finally, still vivid in our memories is the infamous night of STREAKING through Bird Library! Judith, Catherine, and Sonia are graduates of the School’s M.S. in Library Science program. All now retired, Judith was Director for Communications and Development for the University Libraries at the University at Buffalo; Catherine was the Human Resources Systems Manager at the Library of Congress; and Sonia served as the Director of the East Fishkill Community Library. Interested in writing a Reflections column about your iSchool experiences? Contact Kim Pietro at


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Award recipients, from left to right: David Rosen, Kim Rose, Dean Liz Liddy, Alice Rosen, Kenny Rosenblatt, Bruce Rosen, Michael Hoffman, Marc Squire, Evin Robinson, Ben Romy, and Jessica Santana. Not pictured, Josh Frost.

2nd Annual Awards & Recognition Program Honors 11 Alumni The Alumni Office at the iSchool held the 2nd Annual Alumni Awards & Recognition Program event during Syracuse University’s Orange Central alumni weekend festivities on Friday, October 6. The program serves to highlight members of the iSchool community and showcase their contributions and talents. This year’s event recognized 11 Syracuse University alumni, each selected for their involvement in their community or career field, and their close ties with the iSchool.

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DEAN’S AWARD Alice Rosen ’83, Bruce Rosen ’83, and David Rosen ’11, G’12 have been steadfast supporters of Syracuse University, and in particular the iSchool. Alice serves on the Board of Advisors at the School of Education, Bruce is a board member for Syracuse University Hillel, and David has served in several roles with Big Apple Orange, the Syracuse University Alumni Association in New York City, and is currently serving on the Generation Orange Leadership Committee.

BRIDGE TO SUCCESS ALUMNI AWARD Evin Robinson ’12 G’14 and Jessica Santana ’11 G’13 are co-founders of New York On Tech, a non-profit organization with a mission to prepare the next generation of technology leaders emerging from New York City by creating pathways for students to thrive in technology and innovation.


Know any iSchool alumni who are doing great things? Nominations are now open for the 2018 awards! Visit for details and a nomination form.




Kim Rose G’99 serves as Chief Information Officer for Crouse Hospital in Syracuse. In her role as CIO, she works with senior leadership to provide vision and strategic direction in the continued development and implementation of Crouse’s system-wide health information technology operations, as well as developing capability to enhance information sharing between Crouse and community physicians.

Kenny Rosenblatt ’96 is President and Co-Founder of Arkadium, a provider of interactive website content, such as data visualizations, games, quizzes, and polls, to digital publishers and newspapers. Rosenblatt has hosted Syracuse University students at his company’s headquarters in New York City on numerous occasions, and has been an enthusiastic alumni participant in iSchool programs, including the EntreTechNYC immersion trip.

Joshua Frost ’08, Michael Hoffman ’93, Ben Romy ’12, and Marc Squire ’11, all employees of Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media division, have worked closely with iSchool staff and faculty to plan and host the annual MLB Challenge. This contest allows current students to tackle real-world problems in the sports and technology industry, pitch their ideas to current employees, and apply their coursework to a business issue.







raduate student Mariel Rosario discusses her poster presentation as part of Professor Lee McKnightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new blockchain management course.

Profile for School of Information Studies - Syracuse University

Connections - Fall/Winter 2017  

Alumni magazine for the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University.

Connections - Fall/Winter 2017  

Alumni magazine for the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University.

Profile for ischoolsu