Marist Recognized by Computerworld


For the third time in six months, Marist has been recognized for excellence in technology leadership and application by Computerworld, the industry-leading news source.

Most recently, the College was named a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate in the category of emerging technology. The annual award program honors visionary applications of information technology promoting positive social, economic, and educational change.

The latest award recognizes the work of a team led by Senior Academic Technology Officer Josh Baron in developing the

Josh Baron

Senior Academic Technology Officer Josh Baron

Open Academic Analytics Initiative (OAAI), an open-source system that uses predictive analytics to identify students who may be at risk of failing a course and then guide teacher intervention strategies.

With a $250,000 Next Generation Learning Challenges grant, funded primarily through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Baron and his team at Marist led a diverse group of academic and commercial partners, including the College of the Redwood, Cerritos College, Savannah State University, North Carolina A&T State University, and rSmart in developing and testing the system. Key Marist team members included Dr. Eitel J.M. Lauria, associate professor of information systems; Dr. Erik Moody, assistant professor of psychology; and Sandeep Jayaprakash, former learning analytics specialist.

Baron’s team developed the first completely open-source “academic early alert” system which allows instructors to identify students at the start of a course who are at risk to not complete it and then deploy interventions to help the student succeed. Research findings have been very encouraging, showing statistically significant improvements in course grades and “content mastery” (receiving a grade of C or greater) levels among those students in courses that received interventions.

Marist was also named a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate in the category of “world-good,” honoring organizations for the design and development of technologies that have supported social good. The College was recognized for its work with the World Community Grid project. Marist was the first college or university in the United States to join World Community Grid (WCG), which uses idle computer processing power to support research for humanitarian and sustainability initiatives. It is the largest college or university contributor to the program, having participated in all 20 WCG projects and earning a “sapphire badge”—the highest rank—for each one. 

“The idle processing power that Marist contributes to the various World Community Grid projects is benefiting the scientific research teams behind these projects,” says Marist Client Technology Manager Dave Hughes, who oversees the College’s participation. “These research teams are benefiting all of humanity.”

Dave Hughes
Client Technology Manager Dave Hughes

All told, Marist has contributed more than 11,000 years of computing time to WCG and has returned more than 22 million results to research teams. WCG projects that Marist has contributed to include finding a cure and/or drug treatments for muscular dystrophy, AIDS/HIV, dengue, hepatitis C, West Nile, yellow fever, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, and malaria. Marist has also contributed computing time to projects that find ways to make clean drinking water available to developing nations and find materials that can make clean and sustainable energy. 

Bill Thirsk
Vice President and CIO Bill Thirsk

Last year, Marist Vice President and CIO Bill Thirsk was named a Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. The Premier 100 program was created in 2000 to spotlight individuals in companies and organizations worldwide who have had a positive impact on their organizations through technology. Thirsk is one of only 1,400 CIOs to be awarded the honor.