Meet a Deac – John Borwick

Today’s Daily Deac features John Borwick of IS.  Though your students might not have met John directly, his team’s work on the Google Mail transition this summer touched all of us on campus.


What is your official job title?
Director, IS Portfolio Management

How long have you worked at WFU?
I’ve worked as a staff member since 2003, when I was hired as a systems administrator to manage some of the campus’ servers (high-powered computers that sit in a data center).  Over time my job has become less technical and more about how Information Systems can better link what we do to what campus most needs.  In a broader sense, I’ve been on campus since 1982–my mother, Susan Borwick, is a professor in the Music department.

In laymen’s terms, what do you do at WFU?
My team manages technology projects and coordinates our department’s technology services.  For example, when the University switched faculty and staff e-mail accounts to Google, someone from my team managed that switch to ensure everyone understood the scope of what we were doing, and to ensure we made realistic promises and then met those promises.  My team helps measure how well our department continues to deliver on our promises once projects are complete, for example, by reporting on how well we deliver service.

How would you characterize Wake Forest students?  What are some common attributes they have?
Unfortunately, in my job I don’t get to interact much with students.  I can say that when I’ve had the privilege of supervising student workers, they always exceed my expectations.  I’ll ask them to do something that I think will take a month, such as scanning hundreds of paper folders, and they’ll have it done in a couple of days.

What advice would you give to students?
Don’t ignore your present self.  Many people, myself included, focus on how what they’re doing now will help them in five years.  This leads people to ignore what they’re doing today, or suffer through it, in the hope of an always uncertain future.  The things you’re doing now, even studying, can be fun and rewarding today when they receive your present attention.

What do you like best about working at Wake Forest?
Wake Forest people care about other people.  I think this starts with our students.  Any staff or faculty member will go to great lengths to listen and support our students.  This personal attention is part of the University’s culture, and extends to other faculty and staff.  We’re small enough to be a community, and we care enough to want to know one another and help.

Here’s a few completely frivolous questions…

What music are you listening to these days: They Might Be Giants’ Here Come the 123s, a great children’s album

Favorite movie: Harvey.  My favorite quote from that movie: “‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”

Favorite place to be on campus: Maybe the practice rooms in Scales Fine Arts Center.  I remember running around down there as a little kid with some other faculty members’ kids and pretending to be able to play piano.

What most people don’t know about you: As an undergraduate at NC State, I was the instructor of record for a one-credit programming language course.  To make teaching other undergraduates less awkward, I grew out my beard so I would look older.

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