Information, Technology & Consulting

Meet Alan Cattier, Dartmouth's Director of Academic and Campus Technology Services

On August 1, 2013, Alan Cattier will join Dartmouth as Director of Academic and Campus Technology Services. Alan arrives from Emory University in Atlanta where he was the Director of Academic Technology Services. At Emory, he led a 34-person team and served as the central point of coordination for the university's six professional and graduate schools and affiliates.

Alan received his BA in English from Dartmouth, his Master’s degree from the Bread Loaf School of English (Middlebury), and has done further graduate work in English at Emory.

We asked Alan a few questions about his background, his interests, and why he made the move to Dartmouth.

You come to Dartmouth from Emory University, where you were the Director of Academic Technology Services. Would you please describe your work in Atlanta?

At Emory, I was part of a six person leadership team that managed the University's IT operations. My particular focus was Academic Computing, where I was responsible for the student and faculty experience of campus IT resources. From online training to helping students manage their hardware, Academic Technology Services (ATS) was the first round of contact shaping an individual's experience of IT services.

Aside from Emory, what other jobs have you held before coming to Dartmouth?

If you were to search back into my history, you'd find that I worked at the McNeil-Lehrer NewsHour in the late 1980's. I also worked for WGBH as a researcher on a series called, "War and Peace in the Nuclear Age." Going back even further in time, I traded foreign currency in the Channel Islands. That really was a lifetime ago.

Why did Dartmouth’s Director of Academic and Campus Technology Services position appeal to you?

It was a couple of different things. First, I had a sense of the community and I really liked it. Second, I had a sense of the place, and I loved it. Take job responsibilities that would allow you to function as part of a larger team in confronting our challenging moment in higher education, and the position looked like a real fit for me. I like challenges.

What would you like to accomplish in your first year in Dartmouth Computing?

Obviously, I have a lot to listen to and learn about about in my first months at Dartmouth. I am looking forward to that, as I think I am a good listener. But I am also very interested in our current moment in computing, and hope to foster more dialogue, both internal and external to the Division, about the forces that are shaping our institution. I think the worst thing that can happen in moments of change like this is for there not to be ample channels of communications.

You have degrees in English—how do you apply this background to technology? How would you say a strong grasp of language helps us understand technology?

For me the two passions are closely linked. I love literature, and as many of you will find out, love storytelling as an extension of my love of literature. What I think it offers me is a way to engage culture, something that is very important in times of change. In my experience, stories help to explain change, provide a vision for change, and help build support for change. That's an important relationship to nourish in this place and time.

Do you do any writing outside of work?

I do. For anyone who has trolled me at Amazon, you might know that I co-authored a book on William Bartram, one of the original naturalist explorers of America's southeast. I'd be happy to speak about it when I get to Hanover, but essentially myself and my co-authors retraced Bartram's steps through seven southern states in an effort to capture his original path, as well as an effort to establish a Bartram Trail in the South, that would connect with the AT.

Most surprising little-known fact about you?

I am one of the few living humans who have read the entire written correspondence of Ronald Reagan—all 8000 pages of it—as part of a broader research project.

Where did you last go on vacation?

Half Moon Bay, California where I relished a chance to explore the Santa Cruz mountains while my wife was doing some work at Stanford.

Read any good books lately?

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Nabokov

Are you using any new apps? What are they and why do you find them useful?

I really like Dark Sky, though it has come in far too useful since I bought it. Essentially, it allows you twenty minute warnings for impending downpours in your location so you can prepare accordingly. It is exceeding accurate, though not particularly useful in the monsoon like conditions we have seen of late.

Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

In no particular order, I love the north country and can't believe I am getting this chance to work at a place I feel so strongly about. I am married and my wife joins me in this trek. I assume you'll get a chance to meet her next month in this column. We love animals and have an American longhair cat, LB, and a miniature dachshund, Dinah. Had our first big day in New Hampshire yesterday with Dinah going voluntarily for her first swim! Never thought we'd see the day.

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