|James Taft, manager
of systems and operations for Information Technology Services, helps keeps
Wesleyan's accounts and servers running smoothly.
Head of Operations is Head of Several Servers, Accounts
|Q: When did you come
A: I started at Wesleyan in September 2003 as the manager of systems and
Q: Briefly summarize Wesleyan’s systems and operations. Are you, in a sense,
the data center for the university?
A: The systems and operations group maintains our user account directories
and the technological infrastructure located inside our Data Center. Almost
all of the central servers for the university, including Web servers, e-mail
servers, database servers, file servers, application servers and backup
systems, are located in the Data Center and are under our care. When you
check your e-mail, visit the Wesleyan Web site, or log into Dragon, Condor
or Woodstock, you are connecting to a machine in the Data Center.
Q: Being under the Technology Support Services umbrella, what accounts and
servers do you support and oversee?
A: We maintain the accounts that members of the Wesleyan community use to
log into their workstations, e-mail, e-Portfolio, and the many other
electronic services provided by Wesleyan. We work very closely with the
other members of Technology Support Services, especially Dave Warner and Ken
Taillon who maintain the network infrastructure.
Q: How do you control the door locks on campus?
A: We don’t directly control the locks on doors, but the server that runs
the key card access system is located in the Data Center and is under our
care. The folks in the WesCard office connect to this server remotely to
program the locks on campus and can make any changes or additions to access
levels from their offices.
Q: As a manager, who are the key members of your staff?
A: Jen Platt and Jerry Maguda are our operations specialists. Doug Baker is
our Windows administrator, and Hong Zhu and Matt Elson are our UNIX
Q: Is your work more behind-the-scenes or do you interact with users often?
A: The operations side of our group, which consists of Jerry Maguda and Jen
Platt, frequently interact with users to answer questions about accounts,
accessing central services, and using our Print Operations services. The
folks on the systems side, including Doug Baker, Hong Zhu and Matt Elson,
have less direct contact with users, though we do interact with departments
that have servers hosted in the data center, as well as professors needing
academic UNIX support. For the most part, though, our direct clients are the
other wings of ITS: User Services, Academic Computing Services and
Q: What are typical concerns people would contact you for?
A: The systems group’s main task is to keep Wesleyan’s technological
infrastructure running smoothly.
On the operations side, we create user accounts for our various services and
respond to users when they need help with these accounts. Our print
operations service tends to the printing needs of the university, including
the phone directory and the Board of Trustees booklets. If people are
interested in how Printing Operations can help them, we ask them to call us
or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Who sees the results of your work?
A: Much of our work is invisible to our users. We spend a lot of time making
our systems more robust so that problems do not affect end users. We are
constantly improving the speed and capacity of our infrastructure so that it
can keep up with the rapid growth of technology usage on campus. In
instances where there are service outages, such as system-wide e-mail
problems, we are typically the group that responds.
Q: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? How did you get
into a high-tech field?
A: I graduated from Haverford College with a degree in English. I have
always had an inclination towards technology, but did not have formal
training before joining a tiny IT department at Deutsch Advertising in New
York City. I was fortunate to work at Deutsch during a time of exponential
growth for the agency and their technological enterprise.
Q: What is your relationship with John Driscoll, alumni director and his
wife, Gina Driscoll, associate director of stewardship?
A: I am married to John and Gina’s daughter, Laura, and we have a
13-month-old girl, Clara. John and Gina’s primary responsibility is teaching
Clara the Wesleyan fight song, but I understand they do other work for
University Relations as well.
Q: What are your hobbies and interests?
A: My main hobbies are skiing, photography, running and tennis.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection