Our dear friend and Academic Technology Services colleague Kirk Alexander passed away on October 1st. We were lucky to have Kirk as the lead on the SmartSite project during its launch and first years of adoption at UC Davis, and he subsequently helped many faculty with hybrid and online teaching projects, often focusing on his areas of expertise: art, technology, and digital humanities. He later worked as Technology Lead for UC Online Education at University of California’s Office of the President, helping faculty from many UC campuses imagine, design, and launch online courses. He kept an office here at UC Davis, and provided accommodating support to those of us seeking to anticipate and meet the technology needs of UC Davis faculty and students. A stellar colleague who always kept student learning in mind in all he did for UC Davis, Kirk Alexander will be missed by those who knew him.
Below is a remembrance by Music Professor Kern Holoman, 1995 winner of the UC Davis Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Research:
More than just being good at his job, Kirk was passionately interested in music, humanistic endeavor, and undergraduate teaching. We worked long and pleasant hours together to assure that the mega-course Music 10 would have a dazzling SmartSite presence on its debut during the first quarter of the cut-over, and he came to every lecture and most of the staff meetings during that first year. When the online exam for 350 went south in the middle of the night, it turned out that he was watching—he saw and fixed the problem before I even knew about it. I know he kept watching, because up until quite recently, whenever I’d click “Contact Us,” Kirk himself would chime in with the answer. I learned the words “Sakai” (the project name for SmartSite), “wiki,” and, yes, “tweet” from Kirk.
Below is a remembrance by Robert Blake, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese:
Kirk was the ideal colleague since his arrival on campus. He made it clear at all times that he was there to help the “team” and improve the educational quality of the university. He combined a thorough knowledge of the technological field, best educational practices, creativity, solid administration, willingness to help, and a positive attitude. In a few words, the ideal colleague. Personally, Kirk helped me prepare the materials for the online UC courses I am teaching for first-year Spanish (SPA2V, SPA 3V). Without his help, I would not have been able to take re-purpose materials developed beforehand with older technologies and covert them into updated working language modules. He was indispensable to the overall project. Vintage Kirk Alexander. This is a blow to our academic community and we grieve with his family and send our support.
If you have any memories of Kirk you’d like to share, please post them in the comments. You can also view his obituary, which was published in the Denver Post on October 7.