Adkins Heads Educational Technology Services Office Created to Meld Computer, Media & Web Operations

Published: March 24th, 2003

Category: News Briefs

Legal Technology Institute (LTI) Director Andrew Z. Adkins III has been named associate director of the new Educational Technology Services (ETS) Department at the Levin College of Law. The department — which ultimately will combine computer, media and web services — was created last month following a report from Technology Consultant George Comeau, who visited campus and met with numerous “user groups” at the law school late last year. “We hired George to examine our technology and related services so we could better plan for major renovations and upgrades to our facilities getting underway in December,” said Dean Jon Mills. “His key recommendations included major updates to equipment and software and merging the college’s three technology- related groups into one to improve communication and customer service. Andy’s extensive experience in technology and legal information management systems made him the obvious choice to head the new department.” Adkins is one of only a handful of consultants nationally specializing in legal technology. He has advised local, state and national bar associations and provided consulting services to nearly 300 law firms and government law departments. He also has authored more than 100 articles in publications such as PC World and Law Office Computing, and co-founded The Internet Lawyer. Adkins will continue to serve as LTI director and executive director of the International Center for Automated Information Research (ICAIR), and will report to Legal Information Center (LIC) Director Betty Taylor in his new role. “Half of the issues here deal with hardware, software and networking. The other half are people and processes, and they have to work in concert for technology to function correctly,” said Adkins, an electronics engineer from a family of lawyers that includes former Florida Supreme Court Justice James C. Adkins Jr. (his uncle), former Bradford County Judge and 8th Judicial Circuit Judge Andrew Z. Adkins (grandfather), and the late Gainesville lawyer Andrew Z. Adkins Jr. (father). “You have to learn what people do and how they use technology,” said Adkins. “Then you provide them not only with the tools they need to do their jobs, but also the knowledge and skills they need to optimize the use of those tools. I am meeting with our four primary user groups — faculty, students, administrators and support staff — to determine their hardware and support needs and how we can help them reach their work potential.” “Andy has recognized strengths in consensus building, coordination and planning that already are proving beneficial in improving communication between the college’s technical people and those who depend upon their services,” said incoming LIC Director M. Kathleen Price, now director of the Law Library and professor of law at New York University. Pending construction and renovations at the college will provide new facilities and greatly expanded library and classroom space, and enable the school to make full use of the latest technology. ETS is key to this process, as is bringing technology- related personnel and services together into one cohesive unit. Media and Computer Services (see sidebar this page and page 5), headed by Jim Flavin and Mark Bergeron, already have been brought into ETS. Webmaster James Marini, now reporting to Communications Director Stan Huguenin, will join the group when planning efforts are complete. “Merging these departments into one multifunctional technology arm will benefit everyone, from users inside the college to those who visit our website or otherwise rely on resources available through the College of Law,” said Adkins. Prior to creating LTI in 1997, Adkins was president of his own legal technology firm, Adkins Consulting Group. He created the firm in 1989 to meet the legal professon’s need for assistance in utilizing computers, just then being introduced to legal practice. Prior to 1989, he was a senior engineer with Harris Corporation, Melbourne; Florida project leader for Firmware Development, where he designed and developed state-of-the-art military electronic systems; and an engineer with Weyerhaeuser Company in Oklahoma and Seattle. He earned his B.S. (electrical engineering, 1982) and Masters (engineering, 1989) at UF. He is past president of the Gainesville Area Innovation Network, Founder of the Alachua County Computer Recycling Program, member and cofounder of The Legal Consulting Group and member of the American Bar Association/Law Practice Management Section. He was honored by The Florida Bar Committee on Technology with the Judge Earle Zehmer Memorial Outstanding Service Award for enhancing the use of technology in Florida’s legal and judicial systems. Adkins is working on a Strategic Long-Range Technology Plan that includes an enhanced budget for upgrades and planned implementations into the 21st century. He will refine the plan during discussions this summer with the law school’s Technology Committee and two task forces now being formed for Academic and Administrative Technology. “Everyone at the university has been hit hard by budget reductions in recent years,” said Adkins. “Technology is no exception. Computing Services, for example, has tried for years to meet the requests of their clients with very limited resources, which has resulted in frustration for them and for users. And while our audio/visual systems were state-of-the-art when Bruton-Geer Hall was built in the 1980s, we are still using that same equipment all these years later.” Adkins said many vital improvements are planned for the near future, including upgrades to the phone system, older desktop workstations and Token Ring network segments, and file server storage. High priorities include: • Upgrades to desktop computers. About 180 workstations (300 MHz and 450 MHz systems) are below current standards. While funds are being sought to replace these, ETS is working to improve their performance and decrease problems. • Improved file server and network infrastructure. ETS is changing the network from Token-Ring to Ethernet to improve performance, increase redundancy and reduce risk and downtime (upgrades usually occur between semesters and during the summer to minimize downtime). “We are working diligently to improve customer service and end-user assistance,” Adkins concluded. “Service is our first priority.”

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