Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Provost Connie Hungerford announced last Friday that Gayle Barton will take over the role of Director of ITS in January. Barton is currently the Director of Instructional Technology at Williams College, a job which has her helping faculty “utilize “technology to achieve academic objectives,” a job that Barton hopes to replicate in her work at Swarthmore.
Barton said in a telephone interview that she is “thrilled and excited” by the decision, and that she is “really looking forward to working with the students, faculty, and staff at Swarthmore.” Barton cited the smaller size of the student body, the “stronger sense of community,” and its greater involvement in “important business at the college” as factors at her new campus that she is looking forward to…though she does “love Williams” and her former job.
Barton’s prior experience includes IT work at Williams, Clarkson, and St. Lawrence, as well as programming work and lecturing at Jefferson Community College. She was an economics major at Bryn Mawr.
The former director, Judy Downing — who has been with ITS for more than twenty years — announced her plans to retire last May. A Search Committee, chaired by chemistry instructor Tom Stephenson, was formed to locate new candidates. The pool of applicants was, said Stephenson, “very deep…we were incredibly fortunate.”
By the start of this month, the committee had narrowed the field to “two superb finalists,” Barton and Swarthmore‘s own Eric Behrens ‘92, currently Associate Director of ITS and Humanities Coordinator. Each candidate then gave two open forums where they answered attendees’ questions. After soliciting feedback from the campus and talking to references, the committee then made a recommendation to the Provost and an offer was made.
Although Barton has a focus on “multimedia development” as it relates to academia, she is “very cautious of…not coming in with preconceived ideas.” She explained, “There’s a lot of very good people working [at Swarthmore] already, and I have to keep that in mind”; Swarthmore and Williams are not the same place, and not everything that worked well at Williams would work at Swarthmore.
One possibility in which she did express interest, however, was considering a program similar to Williams’ WITs, where student interns work on technology-related programs on campus over the summer. She said that in general, she “doesn’t know how well Swarthmore uses student interns to do multimedia development,” and would like to work on improving what ITS already does in that regard.
Hopefully, Barton will be able to not only keep Swarthmore’s technical systems running smoothly but also provide technological vision and guidance for years to come. She will switch campuses in January.