Analyst Kristin Miscavage's roots on the Farm run deeper than the analog days
BY MICHAEL PEÑA
Kristin Miscavage sees winning an Amy Blue as an award that recognizes her lifelong affiliation with Stanford. She was born at Stanford Hospital to a father who was as an associate professor of business law at the university and a mother who worked in the libraries for more than three decades.
Her childhood memories allude to a time when the Farm actually felt like one: floating on rafts at Lake Lagunita and catching frogs by the boathouse; strolling between giant eucalyptus trees that lined Governor's Row when it was a longer lane that stretched to what is now the Stanford Shopping Center; and paying frequent visits to the horses at the Red Barn.
She remembers attending jazz festivals at Stanford during her grade-school years and seeing the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Henry Mancini and Ray Charles. And when she first started working here as a library assistant in the 1970s, after earning a bachelor's degree in French from the University of California-Santa Cruz, A parking permits were free for faculty and staff, while C spaces were for students.
Now, A permits are priced at a premium, and Miscavage will receive one and a $3,000 cash prize as an Amy Blue Award winner this year. But the honor could just as easily be seen as recognition for the decades of experience and institutional knowledge she brings to the university today.
After leaving Stanford to work as a travel agent for seven years, Miscavage came back in 1984 to work in the Office of the University Registrar—and she was armed with fancy new skills using computers, gained by their introduction for the use of flight booking. It took five years before she landed in an information-technology role, and once she did, her contributions were substantial.
From 1989 to 2000, Miscavage worked in what was then called the Network for Student Information (which later merged into Information Technology Systems and Services). She taught hundreds of staff members in academic departments throughout campus to use computer systems to enter and track student information, staffed the help desk, developed various systems and set up security for users.
"So I did a lot, and that's when I really got to know most of the people on campus," Miscavage said. "And then PeopleSoft came along."
Claiming that she saw the handwriting on the wall at the time—that her role would diminish into one where she tended a dinosaur system while new staff who were savvy with PeopleSoft were hired—she returned to the registrar's office to work as an institutional research analyst.
In that capacity, she helps Associate Registrar Paddy McGowan compile statistics on enrollment, put together reports for central offices involved with student services and supply information for ethnic clubs, the Associated Students and other student groups. Much of that, however, must be done in compliance with federal laws protecting the privacy of students' information.
"If you happen to come in to the office on a Sunday, you will frequently find Kristin in her cubicle working to assist someone in one of the departments," said Tim Flood, technical manager in the registrar's office. "She is one of our most dedicated employees at Stanford."
So while some may think that the pace of working at Stanford is more leisurely than the speed of business throughout the rest of Silicon Valley, Miscavage said there have been days when it felt like she was working for a start-up company—both in terms of length and enthusiasm.
"We had the long hours like Silicon Valley, too," Miscavage said with a laugh. "I always felt like I was in the middle of everything that's happening."