Dente departs



Michael Dente sits at his office chair in Willey Library in early September 2018

After a long and busy summer upgrading both NVU campuses to run remote classes and a successful 21 years with the Vermont State Colleges, Chief Technology Officer Michael Dente is moving on to work for the state of Vermont.
“I came here as a student in 1996,” he said, “ and graduated in ’99. I’m an alumni with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and I’ve taught part time for 12 years.”
Despite his years of experience and fancy title, Dente doesn’t just consider himself a director. “I live in the trenches,” he said. “I’m out there doing whatever I need to do to make things successful. I like to fill in where the other guys are doing their thing, filling in the gaps. I was pulling cable at Lyndon last week in the ceilings. I’ll do anything.”
Success, for Dente, looks like two campuses full of technology running as smoothly as possible. During the summer, Dente and his team outfitted every classroom with telepresence technology.
“I think the staff in the department went above and beyond the call,” he said. “We fit up every single classroom with a minimum of webcam and tablet. Many rooms got full video conferencing systems.”
In March, Dente’s team worked around the clock for four weeks straight to get fully online systems of learning up and running. “It was insane in itself,” he said, “moving 160-some faculty off-campus in a week, plus all the staff. They all had their phones and computers at home.”
Despite the challenge of pivoting professors online, Dente was lighthearted. “[Computer malfunctions] are like losing power,” he joked. “When you lose your power, you’re flipping light switches like ‘Whoa, I forgot. I lost all my infrastructure.’ I think part of our job is to make things transparent, but then they’re so transparent that maybe people don’t realize what’s going on in the background.”
With the campuses shut due to COVID-19, Dente and the rest of the IT team were free to work there during the summer as the technology implementation progressed. “It was the weirdest summer in 21 years,” he said. “It’s never been that quiet. We kept going around and emptied out all the vending machines. Other people must have been helping us, like Physical Plant, but it was very bizarre. It was the quietest summer ever.”
Dente’s passion for technology extends to his teaching. IT staffer and NVU-Lyndon alum Ryan Sweatt praised Dente both as a supervisor and a professor. “He was a great boss to have, and part of the reason why IT became my career,” Sweatt said. “I took all of his classes, and they are packed full of real-life experiences and stories.”
Dente shares a similar fondness for the whole team. “I think I’m going to miss the team that we’ve made over the last 21 years the most. We’re so close. We eat lunch together, sometimes break together. We know each other really well. That’s the biggest loss for me. I also really love dealing with the students and faculty and staff.”
Moving forward, Dente will be taking on a new role as an IT director for the state of Vermont but will still be teaching. “I’ll still do it as long as they allow me,” he said, laughing.