2014 WMU Department of Business Information Systems

Outstanding Alumni Award



WMU 11th Annual IT Forum: Keynote Speaker

Comments about my speech:
We are very grateful that you took time from your busy schedule, attended the conference, and delivered an excellent speech. The lunch was special due to your informative and fun filled speech. Thank you so much. Enjoy your week. - Muhammad A. Razi, Ph.D.
You did a great job. I appreciated the underlying humor throughout -- while at the same time providing some timely comments about IT security. Well done. - Richard A. Gershon, Ph.D.
Many of us impressed by your talk. I heard very good responses from my table. You should be proud of yourself. - Dr. Bernard Han, Ph.D.
So many people told me after your presentation that they love so much your speech which is really impressive, humorous, and meaningful. - Jyhhorng Michael Tarn, Ph.D.
You were great! My table really enjoyed your presentation. - Randy James
Excellent job on your presentation. You kept it light, and had a great message. - Michelle DePinto

Comments about my award:
Tom began his WMU professional career in a tight spot in 1988 - a really tight spot because his desk was crammed into a computer tape library located in the basement of the Seibert Administration Building. However, that humble beginning has not hampered his 26 year WMU career as he has steadily advanced up the organization chart. While Tom's technical skills are impressive, it's his social skills that set him apart from others. He's excellent at "breaking the ice" in a meeting setting and relaxing the group by telling a funny life experience story. One example of this is the inclusion of celebrity autographs from his personal collection at the top of his meeting agendas. Being an accomplished tennis/basketball player, he takes many ideals from his sports background, such as teamwork, and incorporates them into his management style. His loyalty to WMU and to his staff will ensure that his career continues to flourish.
I cannot keep any comments about Tom in a 3-5 sentence format. I bet I am not the only one! Perhaps that is my first comment. Maybe we should talk via the phone. Please take whatever sentence you think is of the most interest or feel free to give me a call. Tom and I have worked together for nearly 20 years. He has been a wonderful colleague and trained us all at WMU on how to implement projects. When I think of Tom, I think "vanilla, vanilla, vanilla"! No matter how difficult the topics of conversation could be, or the impending issues, Tom stuck to the facts. (Well sometimes we would digress....) His agendas used to start with a picture at the top that we would have to guess the celebrity pictured. What a fun way to start a meeting and lighten it up. His humor, professionalism, and personal touch truly made any issue easy to work through. He bleeds brown and gold and always has the best interest of WMU first and foremost. He does not put himself first. I have boasted many times at meetings with other Michigan Universities how lucky we are to have someone like Tom in our corner at WMU. I am so very truly proud that Tom would identify me that could speak to his attributes.
In his role as CTO, Tom is passionate about charting a course of success for his alma mater. He uses innovation, collaboration and strategic partnerships to help WMU anticipate the impact that new and emerging technologies have on the business of education. As a visionary technologist, Tom encourages and inspires individuals to work together as a team for the betterment of the whole. He is a witty professional and a great person to have as a friend.
I've had the honor of working with Tom for nearly all of his 26 years at WMU, starting back in the days when he was creating solutions for business applications on the front lines....all the way up the chain to where he is ably leading our OIT efforts. He has excelled at every level. Part of Tom's secret has been he's never let others' egos or personal agendas deter him from delivering solutions on budget and on time. His ability to work as a team player at every level has stood him well. Additionally, he's simply a very bright guy who likes to have fun in the work place....it really is contagious....he's my kind of guy! Congratulations, Tom....very well deserved from my perspective.
I have known Tom for quite some time, I knew Tom when I was here as a student, and we met on the basketball court. He’s a great guy, a great ball player. He likes to work hard and play hard. I was working for the City of Kalamazoo when Tom told me that there were some jobs open at WMU, and that I should apply. And that is how I came back to WMU. I worked in the Budget Office and Tom worked in the IT office; we were both directors of our areas and peers and eventually I moved over to IT and now I report to Tom. If you know Tom, you know Tom is a Bronco through and through to the core. I know it sounds silly but if you cut Tom he would bleed brown and gold. He is unmatched in his passion for WMU. Tom is a good leader because he is a good listener. He listens to all sides of an issue and he is interested in problems and solutions. He is committed to being better at what we do. He doesn’t have an agenda of what he thinks we should do but genuinely listens and helps shape a solution and everyone benefits from his leadership style, top to bottom. He looks at what will benefit the entire organization.
Now, I’ll ask the Chair of the Department of Business Information Systems, Mike Tarn, to join me, and I’ll ask the recipient of the Business Information Systems Outstanding Alumni Award, Thomas Wolf, to join Dr. Tarn. Tom Wolf has advanced through a variety of progressively responsible IT positions, which include 19 years of project management and 15 years of staff supervision. He was eventually named WMU’s first Chief Technology Officer in 2011. With a passion for WMU that has been passed down for generations in his family, Wolf approaches each day with unrivaled enthusiasm and a commitment to superior results. First off, I need to note that we had so many people from WMU respond with quotes about Tom that I will read only a sampling here, but Tom will receive all of them in full length to keep. And this was the case with several of our recipients today – the passion with which colleagues spoke about you was astounding and makes me very proud to be an alum. Five different individuals noted that Tom “bleeds brown and gold,” including Jim Gilchrist (GILL’-krist), WMU Vice Provost and Chief Information Officer, who says, “Success as chief technology officer is equal parts of knowing the technology and how it works, knowing the business needs of the university, knowing how to effectively manage people, and understanding the perspectives of people in other roles. Tom has all of those parts covered, and he is fully committed to helping students, faculty, and staff be successful in accomplishing their work.” Jan Van Der Kley (VAN’-der-clay), Vice President for Business and Finance, says, “Tom is one of my favorite people to work with on issues big or small. He is responsive, creative and a wonderful collaborative partner. It does not matter the day or time. If you have a need, Tom is always available. He is a high-energy person, and will work tirelessly to achieve the goal. I have always thought Tom excels in those qualities that make a person a great leader.” Gregory Lozeau (leh-ZOH’), Director of IT Policy and Communication states, “Tom is a Bronco through-and-through ... and he keeps reminding us of it! Because of his commitment to the institution, he brings an added enthusiasm to the workplace and a drive to offer the best IT services to the students, staff and faculty. Tom knows that we need to engage our students in the classroom with technology that will enhance their learning experience and challenge them with their educational pursuits. However, he's quick to mention that as staff and faculty, we all enjoy a paycheck, and those ‘back-end’ services are essential to the operation of WMU. Tom is also fun to work for and likes sharing the joys of someone’s work anniversary or a job-well-done acknowledgement. It's important to Tom that we work hard but have fun along the way as we deliver exceptional IT services to the University community.” Please join me in congratulating the Business Information Systems Outstanding Alumni Award recipient, Tom Wolf.


Click on picture above for PDF of my presentation.

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Comments about anything?

Thomas R. Wolf, Jr. <wmuwolf@gmail.com>

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