The University Record, September 27, 1999

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  • 1999 Computerworld Smithsonian Program

    14 U-M projects in Smithsonian’s IT archives

    By Jane R. Elgass

    Jose-Marie Griffiths, university chief information officer, with Dan Morrow of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Morrow presented medallions to the team leaders—laureates—whose projects have become an official part of the history of the information technology revolution. Photo by Paul Jaronski
    Faculty and staff from across campus gathered in the Michigan League Ballroom Sept. 23 to celebrate the work of colleagues who have creatively used information technology in a variety of innovative projects that can serve as models for others.

    The program, sponsored by the Office of the Chief Information Officer, recognized members of 14 teams who have been named laureates by the Computerworld Smithsonian Program. The projects, including a virtual microscope, a new chemistry lab concept and a novel way of teaching English to non-native speakers, now are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology.

    “The University of Michigan laureates represent a community of outstanding individuals who are using information technology to benefit society,” said Dan Morrow, Computerworld Smithsonian Program director.

    Official ceremonies, accepting 472 projects from around the globe, were held last April on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Representatives of only three of the U-M teams were able to attend those ceremonies, so Morrow traveled to Ann Arbor last week to make the formal presentations to the other teams and recognize the work of all of them.

    The U-M projects are part of a permanent exhibition in spring 1990 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on the history of information technology that opened. The exhibition starts with the telegraph and continues to the present, “which changes about every 30 seconds,” Morrow noted.

    Knowing that keeping up with the present would be difficult, the Smithsonian convened a committee of 100 chair and chief executive officers of information technology companies who each year select projects that will become part of the archives. Nominees for the program “are people who are using information technology in ways that should be part of the history of the [information technology] revolution,” Morrow explained. “They are addressing real problems, affecting real people, in the real world.

    “We are trying to capture a revolution in process. You honor us by allowing us to record what you’re doing in these extraordinary times,” he added.

    Faculty and staff who were recognized at last week’s program come from LS&A, the Medical School, College of Pharmacy, M-Pathways, Office of Instructional Technology, School of Art and Design, School of Education, School of Social Work, Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations and U-M-Dearborn’s College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters.

    Information on the Computerworld Smithsonian Program is on the Web at