IT Spotlight: Pioneering Campus Tech with UCM’s Todd Van Zandt

Posted by Lexi Rivetti, UCB Student Intern, UCOP. From help desk support for students, to desktop support for staff, to assisting professors with classroom technology, UC Merced’s Todd Van Zandt is your “go-to” man. As Director of Campus Technologies, Van Zandt enjoys managing key programs for Merced, the first American research university to be built in the 21st century.

Arriving at Merced just before the grand opening in 2005, Van Zandt began his career at UC Davis, working full-time in the IT department while finishing up coursework and earning his BS in managerial economics. Nearly twenty years later, Van Zandt finds he is busier than ever, leading a variety of IT initiatives.

Recently, he’s been working on documenting and streamlining processes for incident management, “which includes responding to everything from a problem on an individual student’s computer to a campuswide network outage,” he laughed.

Van Zandt is also on the team organizing UCM’s major learning management system (LMS) transition from the Sakai-based UCMCROPS to the Canvas-based CatCourses. To learn about best practices, Van Zandt and his colleagues met with educational technology services staff at UC Berkeley, which recently made a similar LMS transition. Van Zandt wants the transition to be as smooth as possible for the students.

UCM will reach its tenth anniversary in September. Van Zandt said, “I like that we’re a new campus and that our focus is to encourage more Central Valley students to go to college – to make it seem possible for them. Thirty to forty percent of students are from the Central Valley and about sixty percent of our students are first-generation college students. We also have a smaller campus, so it’s not too intimidating.”

The smaller size benefits him too. He said, “I feel like I know a lot about what the University of California does – from its research, to its fundraising, to its administration – because I’ve been so involved here. The community of the campus is what I really enjoy.”

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