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Jim Gogan posedJim Gogan

Title: Interim Director of Communication Technologies at Information Technology Services

Personal: Lives in Carrboro with his wife, Harlene, who works part-time for the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. Daughter, Maureen, attends UNC-Charlotte.

Education: Bachelor’s in political science from University of Buffalo, graduate work in political science at UNC-Chapel Hill

Jim Gogan entered information technology in a roundabout way, but the field’s been a good fit for him. Gogan has worked for UNC-Chapel Hill for 38 years, including a collective 28 years with Information Technology Services and other University central computing operations that predated ITS.

“I changed majors six times when I was in college. My ultimate major and graduate work had nothing to do with what I’m doing now,” he said. “I wound up finally majoring and getting my degree in and doing graduate work in political science.”

For his graduate work at Carolina, Gogan needed to develop multi-dimensional scaling programs because his political science research didn’t lend itself to a simple left-right continuum. As a result, he learned computer programming and the mainframe.

Gogan, who oversees networking for ITS Communication Technologies, picked up responsibility also for the other half of the division – engineering and operations—on January 3 when Rick Harden left that post for another job. Gogan is now Interim Director of Communication Technologies.

This is part one of a two-part profile. On Wednesday, in the second part of this profile, Gogan shares the work initiative that most excites him in 2015 and explains how his group stays ahead of the campus’ changing technology needs.

What do you do at ITS?

I supervise the people who provide all of the communication technologies infrastructure and services for the campus. So that includes the phone services, cable TV service, the physical infrastructure that runs on it in terms of the fiber between buildings and wiring within buildings, the data network—all of the routers and switches and wireless access points that are used for all that. And a number of network-based services, like DNS and DHCP and network-time protocol—the things that everything else needs to be able to work on the network.

Because I’ve been here as long as I have, I and the first people in my group essentially built the network. We try to continue to maintain it to the specifications and design goals that we had at startup in the late ‘80s. It’s amazing how well they still hold up. They are still the foundation of a lot of the things that we do.

I also make sure all of my groups and everyone in my groups talk to each other and everyone else. I’m very big on communication.

What do you like about your job and working at ITS and Carolina?

UNC-Chapel Hill, I think, is one of the best universities in the world. It’s got a lot of smart people. And a lot of diversity in terms of what people are doing. I can on one day work with somebody using the network to deliver music instruction over the Internet, and two days later work with somebody who’s trying to transfer petabytes of genome data.

You never get bored if you listen to what people are telling you in terms of what they’re doing on campus. It’s a microcosm of the world. Anywhere else, it’s really just a very narrow window of what folks are doing. Here it’s like “60 Minutes” every day.

In terms of ITS itself, it is the central IT group of one of the best universities in the world. So we hire and we should hire the smartest of the smart. I love working with smart people. They make me feel smarter. You can’t get that anywhere else.


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