If political science research professor Jim Danziger had been born centuries ago, he might have been an explorer.
He has visited more than 50 countries – 14 in the past year while serving as a faculty member for the Semester at Sea program – and his research on information and communication technologies 25 years ago was considered a leap into unchartered territory.
“When I first got into this field, it was quite undefined and many political scientists looked at me like I was a little crazy to take an alternative study route in this area,” Danziger says.
Danziger is known for helping put UCI’s program in information technology on the map, says colleague and business professor Kenneth Kraemer. The program was used as a model by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, Indiana and Michigan universities.
“In 1974, Danziger and his colleagues initiated a program of research into the social and policy impacts of information technology that has become a worldwide model,” Kraemer says.
In a recent study, Danziger found that instant messaging in the workplace is not as disruptive as employers suspected. According to Danziger, IM allows workers to get quicker answers to specific questions and avoid more disruptive forms of communication such as phone calls, e-mail and unexpected office drop-ins.
His findings made their way from academia to mainstream press, a point of pride for Danziger who says, “It’s always nice to see your work being read outside the academic community.”
The UCI Alumni Association has recognized Danziger’s contributions by naming him the 2009 Lauds & Laurels Extraordinarius, the association’s most prestigious honor.
“Jim’s defining quality is his passion for optimizing the whole university experience for students,” says Manuel Gomez, vice chancellor for student affairs.
As dean of undergraduate education, Danziger created the UCI branch of the UCDC Washington Academic Internship Program.
“Jim is one of those rare individuals whose devotion to students has led him to make contributions at every level of the university,” says Barbara Dosher, School of Social Sciences dean.
That same commitment to undergraduate education has not wavered in his nearly four decades of service to UCI. Danziger estimates he’s reached more than 18,000 students.
“UCI is a special place,” he says. “When I discuss the politics of various countries, I know there are students sitting in my classroom with close ties to each of the countries I’m talking about, and they will have opinions on my comments.”
Now that he has retired, the modern day explorer plans to venture to countries he has not yet visited, but he says he won’t stray far from campus, where he is still involved with teaching and research.
“I’ve been doing what I love for the past 37 years and I don’t see that changing.”