Sept. 19, 2011
Northwest Vice President of Information Systems Jon Rickman announces retirement
Dr. Jon Rickman, Northwest Missouri State University's vice president of information systems and the father of the University's "electronic campus," has announced his retirement after 35 years at the University.
Rickman's retirement is effective Dec. 31.
"I've always enjoyed having a great team in the information systems department and will always appreciate their hard work and their ability to accomplish some very challenging projects," Rickman said. "I have also enjoyed continued help and support from the faculty and the staff over the last 35 years."
Rickman, who is often seen riding his bike around the Northwest campus, added, "I'm reminded of a quote of Albert Einstein, ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.' I have had an enjoyable journey here at Northwest, and it is time to move on."
Born in Maryville, Rickman began teaching and became director of computing services at Northwest in 1976. He was promoted to vice president of information systems in 1996.
"Dr. Rickman is a teacher-scholar, a historian, a visionary, a doer, a Bearcat," Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. "Through his 45 years in the industry and 35 years of superlative service at Northwest, he has had a bird's eye view of historical changes in information technology. He helped stake Northwest to a leadership position, and we are thankful for his contributions. Bearcat Nation is a connected nation and Jon is deeply connected to our history and has had a key hand in helping us all connect in ways unimaginable just decades ago."
In 1976, Rickman programmed a new Altair micro computer, the first commercial personal computer in the world, used by the department of computer science. Prior to the Altair, Northwest only had one mini-computer, an HP 2115 with a teletype console, and one old batch computer, an IBM 360. Two years later, Rickman helped implement the first interactive academic network in Missouri, based on super mini-computer technology. With the removal of the expensive batch computer, Northwest expanded its timesharing computing power and the network of super mini-computers provided a host of new interactive services.
In 1987, Rickman created the first campus-wide academic comprehensive computing network and residence hall network in the nation. The network garnered national attention for Northwest through coverage by The Washington Post, USA Today and the Associated Press.
During the 1990s, Rickman continued to ensure Northwest remained on the cutting edge of the fast-evolving computer technology. In 1991, he helped create MOREnet, the Missouri Research and Educational Network, a data and digital instructional TV network that has saved Missouri schools and tax payers millions of dollars over the last 20 years. Rickman also was the first chairman of the MOREnet Board of Governors.
In 1997 at Northwest, Rickman implemented the first large academic network with quick repair desktop computers that had swap-out disk drives for quick software replacement. That same year, Northwest began deploying laptop computers to faculty, and in 2004 Northwest implemented a low cost model to provide residence hall students with laptops.
In 2008, Northwest implemented its program to provide laptops to its more than 7,000 students, making the University the first in the nation to provide both a laptop and textbooks to its students as part of their tuition.
During his 45-year professional career, Rickman wrote and edited four books and published or presented nearly 70 articles. In 2002, he also helped create the Jean Jennings Bartik Computing Museum at Northwest, in honor of the computing pioneer and Northwest alumna. Rickman also initiated the creation of the Northwest Online Museum.
"In my 35 years at Northwest I've seen computing infrastructure come full circle," Rickman said. "In the '70s we had dumb text-based terminals connected to timesharing servers providing email, text editing, data retrieval and custom applications. In the '80s and '90s most people wanted stand-alone personal computers. Today we have graphics, gesturing and voice-based mobile handheld devices once again networked to remote web servers for email, calendaring, browsing and a huge menu of apps."
Prior to his work at Northwest, Rickman worked as a manager for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company and taught at the University of Central Missouri, The Pennsylvania State University and Southern Illinois University.
Rickman earned a doctorate in computer science from Washington State University. He earned his bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics and his master's degree in physics, both from the University of Central Missouri.
In retirement, Rickman said he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Donna, and family, which includes three children and eight grandchildren. In addition to enjoying sports, music and dance performances, Rickman is an enthusiast of model rockets and model trains.
The University will announce plans to fill Rickman's role at a later date.
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Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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Northwest Missouri State University
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