Posted by Leah Burns, IT Communications Coordinator, UCOP. Jennifer S. Hopkins came to UC Berkeley in 2012, bringing over fifteen years of IT work experience in government and the private sector. For her, the main draw to higher education was the ability to use technology to impact students’ lives. “So often IT involves working behind the scenes, but being in higher education, and especially Student Affairs, I am able to see the results of what I do,” she said.
As Director of Student Information Systems and Applications within Student Affairs-Information Technologies, Hopkins oversees the systems that students use, beginning when they first apply until they graduate. These include the admissions, financial aid, and registrar’s systems, as well as those used for orientation and housing.
Previously Hopkins served as the IT Division Director for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. She was responsible for managing Enterprise Systems and Technology Strategy and Planning. “When I decided to come to UC Berkeley, it wasn’t about a job title. It was a life change and the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself.”
Hopkins and her team are currently working on a couple of projects that have huge transformational impact on students. The first project involves being a strategic technology partner for the newly launched Sexual Assault Prevention & Student Advocacy Office within Student Affairs. “We are so proud to play a role in helping support an office that is creating a safe space for students,” Hopkins said.
The transition of the legacy Student Information Systems (SIS) to the new “SIS” is another project she Is supporting that will change the way students engage on campus. The SIS Project, planned for completion in fall 2016, will take many disparate systems and bring them into a single more seamless solution – PeopleSoft-Campus Solutions – to support a better student experience for financial, registration, course planning, and advising needs.
When asked what she enjoys the most about her job, Hopkins said she always looks forward to “Decision Day” at the end of March when applicants are informed of the UCB admissions decision. That day she sees the work of various teams come together. “It’s a complex process from beginning to end, starting when students first apply. There are a lot of long hours, but it is so worth it when you release those decisions and know you were part of a first step for a person pursuing their life dreams.”
Hopkins has long been committed to helping others pursue dreams. Currently she is the President of the Oakland Chapter of the National Forum For Black Public Administrators. While in Kansas City, she co-founded a non-profit organization – Urban S.U.C.C.E.S.S Inc. – Shaping Urban Core Communities to Excel in School and Society. She created free programs through corporate partnerships dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Urban Core of the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan area. Now she’s exploring avenues to help increase diversity in technology.
On a personal note, she is excited to be celebrating her twentieth wedding anniversary, and is a proud mother of four daughters, one who will be graduating from high school this year.