The Buck Stops Here | Staff Spotlight on Cecile Kummerer


Cecile Kummerer is a busy woman. She provides computer support to six language departments:

  • Spanish & Portuguese Studies
  • French & Italian Studies
  • Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
  • Scandinavian Studies
  • Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Comparative Literature.

Kummerer provides hardware support, keeps up with operating systems, maintains awareness of teaching software programs and attends UW-IT workshops. She is a liaison between the departments she works for and the Language Learning Center. “If it starts with the word, computer, I do it!” she said.

“Cecile’s genius is that she makes us feel like she works solely for us,” said Spanish and Portuguese Chair, Anthony Geist. Kummerer credited good working relationships with giving this impression. “My supervisors support and respect me, allowing me to set my schedule according to priorities,” she said. “This enables me to give people the help they need and the sense that I am always available.

“I love the Romance Language world,” added Kummerer, “and am committed to language acquisition, particularly at the college level.” Her current challenge is using technology in the classroom in a way that is relevant for students. “Students today have very advanced computer skills and the use of technology in the classroom keeps them engaged.” And technology reaches more students in larger classrooms, something that is important for a university like UW.

In 1985, she took a part-time job at UW working as Assistant to the Academic Adviser of Romance Languages. “I will forever thank Julia Herschenson for hiring me,” she said.

Soon after starting at UW, IBM and Microsoft began putting computers on the desks of people in educational institutions they thought might be interested. “It was fun and I really liked it,” she said. Even in those early days of technology, Kummerer saw the writing on the wall that many UW systems were going to be automated.

As her knowledge base increased, Kummerer moved to the Asian Language and Literature Department to automate their library catalogue collection. Kummerer began to excel at tech troubleshooting and word got around. Doug Collins, then the Chair of Romance Languages, asked Kummerer to return to Romance Languages as their tech support person, creating a position specifically for her. “Windows was brand new and Adobe Pagemaker had just come out,” she recalled. “It was new and interesting and kept me engaged. “Over the years, every time I have thought about leaving, something more interesting comes my way.”

“I work hard to have good relationships and am proud to give good service. If I can’t solve something, I find the person who can. But the buck stops here.”

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