William & Mary

W&M IT Reaches 20-year Milestone

  • 20th Birthday Celebration
    20th Birthday Celebration  Chief Information Officer Courtney Carpenter recounted the story of how IT formed in 1997 and then praised the staff for the quality of service provided by IT since that time. "I couldn't ask for a better outcome after 20 years," he said.  
  • Video Presentation
    Video Presentation  The IT department was surprised with a video presentation of birthday greetings from around the university. You can watch it, too! (See below)  
  • News article from 1997
    News article from 1997  This 1997 news article, published by William & Mary News, talks about new organizational structure implemented by Dennis Aebersold, the Associate Provost for Technology at the time. Read the full article from the W&M Digital Archive using the link in the article.  
  • The birth of the W&M Network
    The birth of the W&M Network  Twenty years ago, Courtney Carpenter, the current Chief Information Officer for W&M IT (right), and Network Manager Scott Fenstermacher (left) gave a presentation announcing the new campus-wide network.  
  • Floppy disk
    Floppy disk  A common piece of technology from 1997—the good old floppy disk!  
  • Computer room
    Computer room  Here is what the Computer Center looked like in 1997.  
  • IT staff happy to hit 20 years
    IT staff happy to hit 20 years  IT department employees gathered on Nov. 15 to share memories about the past 20 years. This is the committee responsible for organizing the event.  
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In the Fall semester of 1997, William & Mary’s Information Technology department was officially formed. The four departments that reported to the Associate Provost for Technology Dennis Aebersold (Educational Media Services, Telecom, Computer Center, and the Help Desk) came together to form what we now know as W&M IT. 

The department celebrated IT’s 20th birthday, at a department-wide gathering on November 15th in Jones Hall. Chief Information Officer Courtney Carpenter spoke about the time of IT’s formation, sharing his own personal perspective and memories from that time period.  The staff were then surprised with a video presentation that included birthday greetings from other departments and individuals from around campus, which they enjoyed thoroughly. 

{{youtube:large:center|8w4tYvOhFjU, Thanks to all the people and departments who contributed to the making of this video!}}

W&M IT staff that were present twenty years ago during the merger also shared their memories. 

  • Applications Engineer Scott Hayes, described IT in 1997 as “one department spread all over campus.”
  • Business Services Manager Kitty Smith recounted that various members of staff at the time were worried what the merger might mean for their own jobs and that all four departments had to learn to work together. “It turned out okay, but as with anything it took a lot of work to get where we are now,” Smith said.
  • “When it all came together we were in three or four areas, Dillard Complex, Swem, Jones, and Andrews,” said Classroom Support Specialist Dallas Matthews. This meant that depending on the issue, help might be coming from Jones Hall or all the way from the Dillard Complex. It was not until 2010 that Jones became the home for the majority of IT.
  • Video Conference and CATV Engineer Dave Shantz remembered the differences in technology twenty years ago. The main web browsers were Mosaic, Netscape, and Lynx and that Google did not yet exist. Floppy disks were one of the main ways to store and transfer data, and cable TV was brand new on campus. Devices and processes that are simplified now could be much more complicated back then. As Shantz described, “Attaching to a network printer twenty years ago could drive people stark, raving mad.”
  • Project & Communications Manager Melissa Palacios was a student at William & Mary in 1997. She remembers when registration had to be done through a dedicated terminal computer, rather than on your personal computer. “To register for classes, we had to go to terminal computers scattered in a few locations around campus. Lines were often long. Students would camp-out the night before registration outside the offices where the terminals were located,” Palacios said.

Staff also shared artifacts that have been saved over the years.  Several old pictures from that time period were on display – many were of the Computer Center, which housed IT infrastructure. Other technology related items were brought to the gathering, like an old student bill and a floppy disk. News articles and emails related to the merger were also shown. 

One news article “Realizing a Different Kind of Curriculum” specifically focused on the changes Aebersold was initiating.  View here on page 5.

The gathering allowed the IT department to reminisce about the past 20 years. Technology is always growing and along with that comes changes for W&M IT. Who knows what the next 20 years will bring?