Thursday, June 28, 2007

40 years is a long time

Ken KraemerTuesday night I detoured back to Irvine for a retirement party honoring one of my former faculty, Kenneth L. Kraemer, Taco Bell Professor of Information Technology for Management at UCI.

In 1967, with his USC PhD fresh in hand, Ken arrived at the Graduate School of Administration at UCI, two years after the university was launched. The school has gone through two name changes since then: the Graduate School of Management (1980) and the Merage School of Business (2005). Lyman Porter — who also arrived that year — recalled that in the fall 1967 the school grew to 8 faculty and 13 students; one of those first students was John Van Maanen, well known sociologists and qualitative researcher. Today the Merage School has 51 faculty and 850 students.

For almost the entire 40 years, Kraemer headed UCI’s two major IT research organizations: PPRO (Public Policy Research Organization) which later morphed into CRITO (Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations). CRITO funded my 1994-1996 research on the Japanese computer industry, which lead to one major paper and provided key inputs for Chapter 3 of the 1998 book by Jason Dedrick & Kraemer book. Two years later, Kraemer’s student John L. King was my dissertation co-chair.

Overall, Kraemer has authored or edited 22 books and co-authored more than 150 scholarly papers, as well as many NSF and industry-sponsored research projects. The books (and his major impacts) have including government computing, the Asian computer industry, and global e-commerce. Kraemer (along with the late Rob Kling) is largely considered the founder of the “Irvine school” focusing on the social impacts of computing. As John King (former dean of the Michigan School of Information) noted, this Irvine school has been a major thread in forming some 50 information schools in the U.S.

The most common comment about Ken was “I never thought I’d see him retire.” Speaker after speaker talked about how Ken’s retirement was always 3 years in the future (a constant 3 years, ala the “mañana constant”). Of course, as Ken told me during the reception, he’s not actually retiring. He’s just giving up (most of) his UCI duties to work on his own research, including co-charing the Sloan Foundation-sponsored Personal Computing Industry Center.

Ken honored by many loyal former Ph.D. students. Although my flight home Tuesday night was only to San José, others came from Boston, Ann Arbor, Waco and Denver, as well as two from Canada. We got the students assembled with Ken for a last group shot.
Former studentsForty years in academia is a long time, even more so holding essentially one job at one university. Ken has the output and impact reflecting both his long record, but also an intensity that left his younger colleagues in the dust. (John and Jason both agreed: “never try to keep up with Ken.”)

I’d never make it 40 years at anything, except (health permitting) a wedding anniversary. I’ve been working at SJSU for five years, which at least beats my dad (God bless his soul) whose record was four years of active duty in the US Army Reserves (1942-1945). But not my mom, who spent more than 20 years with San Diego City Schools.

Picture: Courtesy of Dr. Paul Tallon.

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2 comments:

Hui said...

currently I am reading a book on Japanses's ICT industry for my thesis writing.
Individual's Life is only a casual glimpse of the universe, but everyone deserves his best beat--adapted from The Book of Changes, Chinese philosophy

Sue said...
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