Friday, October 31, 2014

Big Block of Cheese Day 2014

When I moved to Morris in 2010, I wanted to find a way to connect with campus. The IT Director / Campus CIO position had been vacant for several years, so most of the students, faculty, and staff were unaware of my role and how I can help find the right "fit" for campus technology. I looked to history for my inspiration. In 1837, President Andrew Jackson's supporters gifted him with a wheel of cheese weighing 1,400 lbs. Jackson put this cheese in the Entrance Hall of the White House and invited the people of the United States to come into the White House and eat the cheese, and thereby meet the people who represented them in government.

I decided to host my own "Big Block of Cheese Day," to invite the campus community to share in a wheel of cheese, and thereby meet the person who represents their campus in technology. Food attracts people, so I was sure to get some folks to stop by. But an IT guy handing out food will only get you so far. So I drew on my English-Scottish ancestry, and decided to wear my kilt. An IT guy wearing a kilt was sure to advertise itself. And it did!

I've hosted a "Big Block of Cheese Day" every year in the Fall. This year's "Big Block of Cheese Day" was another great success! In a little over two hours, people had completely consumed the 12 lb wheel of cheddar.

It was tons of fun, and lots of students, faculty, and staff turned up to have some cheese and talk about campus technology! We talked about printing, accessibility, mobile devices, wireless, Zimride, and other topics.

I also shaped the event by asking folks to comment on a hallway "idea board," where they could suggest a technology need they would like to see addressed on campus. If they didn't have time to write on the board, they could instead put a "star" next to an item they agreed with. This idea board forms part of our IT Input Cycle, which we continue to leverage every year.

I'd like to thank everyone who helped in making Big Block of Cheese Day such an engaging and informative event. And special thanks to Elizabeth Sunde in Catering who found a wonderful, tasty cheese to share!

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