All, it has come to my attention that Jerry Niebaum passed away in January. Jerry was one of the pioneers of Internet connectivity here in the Great Plains region. He worked, collaboratively, across boundaries on behalf of the greater research and education community and for the common good.
His main gig was as vice provost for information services at the University of Kansas, but he was in the forefront of technology innovation in the region:
In 1993, he was principal investigator for an NSF grant that created the Kansas Research and Education Network (KanREN), and in 1997 he led the effort to win an NSF grant that created the Great Plains Network Consortium to support collaborative research and high speed data sharing among member universities in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. He served as executive director of the Great Plains Network in 2003-2004. Nationally, he’s been recognized by EDUCAUSE, which honored him with its Excellence in Leadership in the Profession award in 2000, and the Special Interest Group for University and College Computing Services (SIGUCCS), which inducted him into its Hall of Fame at a conference in Portland, Oregon, in 2001. He led seminars and workshops for national conferences of EDUCOM, CAUSE, Association for Computing Machinery, SIGUCCS and others.
I first met Jerry in August of 2000 when I joined GPN. GPN, Internet2 and advanced networking were new to me. Jerry and I would meet, and he would explain to me the history and vision for GPN. Jerry helped me to understand the big picture–the potential value of GPN to our community beyond moving bits and bytes. In 2003 Jerry was on assignment to the Kansas Board of Regents and took over as executive director of GPN from Rick Summerhill. I worked closely with Jerry for the next year, and I found him to be an inspiring leader. When Jerry retired in 2004, he moved on and did not look back. You can find more about Jerry and his career at http://www2.ljworld.com/obituaries/2016/jan/08/eldon-niebaum/.