Derrick Lam met his wife, Patricia, at UCI, but some would say he’s married to his job.
“The technology changes so fast – it doesn’t work nine to five – that you have to be partly married to the job just to keep up,” he says.
In his nine-year tenure as director of Advancement Information Management at UCI, Lam has charted a 300- fold increase in the size of the computer system he oversees. There was life before Windows, he recalls – but it was primitive: “We had no mouse for the computers. E-mail was difficult to use and you couldn’t send attachments. We had total storage capacity of two gigabytes. Today, we use about 500 gigabytes.”
Lam is responsible for all the technical systems that support University Advancement, including alumni relations, communications, donor relations, fund raising, prospect management and UCI Foundation accounting.
In addition, he teaches extension classes in database management, chiefly for working professionals, and recently was named a UCI Extension Distinguished Professor. “One of my responsibilities is to keep up with the technology, and that requires networking with professionals,” Lam says. “Teaching is especially fulfilling because it’s two-way – I learn from my students.”
Those students include his own staff – three out of eight have signed up for his next class. “Derrick is great to work for and with,” says programmer Linda MacDonald. “We appreciate that he’s open to teaching and encourages us to participate.”
Finding teaching so rewarding, Lam is considering it as a future second career. There are new challenges to be met before he’s ready to retire – he expects advancement’s information system to perhaps triple in the next five years. But he’s already planning for the day he can spend more time with Patricia.
“I owe her a great deal – without her support, and that of my excellent staff, I couldn’t do my job,” he says.