Did you know that there is a technology wizard named Jason Bourne – no, not that Jason Bourne – working in the basement of Miller? Mr. Bourne is students’ first to-go person when they encounter technology-related problems. More importantly, Mr. Bourne himself in fact is a member of KUA’s Class of 1988. I got a chance to hear about his experiences here on The Hilltop.
SC: Mr. Bourne, can you please tell me more about your time after you graduated from KUA?
JB: After I graduated from KUA, I went to the University of Arizona, [and had to adjust to] coming from a very small school [of 260 students] to a school that had over 35,000 undergraduates. It was kind of a shocking transition, very impersonal, and difficult to get to know the teachers because of the class size [of as much as 300-400 students in an auditorium]. I ended up just spending a year at the school and I finished college at Keene State University.
Subsequently, I majored in psychology. But my first job, directly out of college, was for a mail-order computer company called PC Connection. At that time, they were selling computer hardware and computers through catalog sales. I began answering telephones, and I became familiar with the products as people inquired about them. I became sort of a technical resource on the sales department. From that point forward, I kind of gravitated towards technology, software — I spent time working for a software development company — I then went back into computer sales and I sold computer technology to the federal government and the Department of Defense primarily, which brought me back to Tucson, Arizona. Because I had customers out there, and I revisited the University of Arizona.
After that, I worked for a digital mapping company called TomTom that made personal navigation devices and digital maps. While I was working there, I was in communication with the director of Technology at KUA at the time. He happened to be, at one point in my life, the principal of my elementary school in my first grade. So he is someone that I have known for a long time. I bumped into him at a social gathering in my hometown, which is Cornish, NH. He
had suggested that he may be ready to retire from this position [as Director of Technology], so I had asked him when he made that decision to retire if he would please let me know because that was the type of work that I am interested in and I had an interesting reconnection with Kimball Union.
So he called me and let me know that the job was being posted. I applied and interviewed with Mr. Weidman. Ms. Lord, Mr. Creeger, a few faculty members who are not here anymore and several students [met with me]. It was a day-long interview; it was pretty interesting and I began to see that the school had changed quite a bit since I was here. And I was fortunate enough to be offered the job, and now is ten years later. That’s the story [of how I started working at KUA].
SC: Did you always want to come back, though? Or it was just a fortuitous opportunity?
JB: To be honest, I had not really imagined myself working here. But when I heard about the job, and the ability to lead projects, to be more involved… At the same time, I had been working in for profits in the industry. Many of the decisions that had been made in for-profit industry are all about the bottom line. It is what makes the most financial sense, and it is very impersonal. So, for instance, at the digital mapping company where I worked, they were laying off or letting go employees who were responsible for creating those digital maps because they had employees in Poland and India who would do them for far less of money. So [the working environment] became uncomfortable as many of the people you work with are being let go. It just did not feel good.
So, I looked at the opportunity here at KUA through two different lenses: there was the professional lens, where I saw as an opportunity to take a higher-level management position within an organization focusing on technology; and then I looked at it through the type of work environment where I felt I could really get behind my work and feel good about it. And education checked one those boxes; I felt that as long as my efforts were improving, the academic educational experience, even the life experience of people here at KUA, the
n I would be happier in that type of environment. [sic] And I was correct. That was my gut feeling, and I love working here.
SC: So, you’re glad you made the choice. What are some new additions to the school that has impressed you?
JB: I think one of the major difference is the advising program here. It fosters a deeper relationship between students and faculty members. In my opinion, this feels like a much more caring environment now than it was when I was a student here in the 1980s.
SC: How did the advising system work back then?
JB: It is interesting that at some point this morning, it just occurred to me that I was trying to think of meetings I had with my advisor when I was a student here. And I went to KUA for three years, sophomore through senior year. I can only think of two instances that I can remember meeting with my advisor. So, I do not think it was very well-organized at all. We were very much on our own or at least that was my recollection. For instance, at All School Meetings, we never sat with advisors—never with teachers. There was only enough room for students to sit, so all of the teachers stood along the sides. That was in Hayes Auditorium, which at that time was just Fitch Auditorium.
And also the entire student life programming, not just the advisory, but the activities on the weekends — we really did not have those either. There was no much to do. Therefore, if most students had the opportunity to leave on the weekends, they would.
SC: Were you a boarder?
JB: Yes, I was.
SC: Besides these programs you mentioned above, are there any athletic or academic programs that also changed from your time here?
JB: One other significant change is related to the arts. As it is now, it did not exist while I was a student here in the 80s. We had arts class, but we did not have a program; we did not have Flickinger because that building did not exist. There were certainly music courses offered, but it was not nearly as well-organized or as enriching as it is now.
JB: We also had far fewer AP courses. We did have some, but it was far fewer. Athletically, we were a smaller school. But we probably had as many team offerings as we do now for athletics.
SC: Was there football?
JB: Yes, there was. Football was definitely a thing. There were also track programs in the spring, which is now just running. But back then it was in full bloom — field and track. We also had wrestling and swimming as teams here on campus.
SC: What was your favorite thing on campus? Were you an athlete? Theatre guy? Or a combination of both?
JB: My favorite experiences were always the social experiences with my friends. The athletics were something that was part of the requirement, so I tried different things — I think I participated in four different varsity athletics or teams. But I did not stick with one. I went from one to the next and to the next, just to try something different. So I would not consider myself a fantastic athlete and I never really aspired to be a high-level athlete.
I did participate in one play during my senior, one musical play. But that program was not really developed. So that was probably one play per year or two plays per year.
SC: Are there any faculty members that are still here from when you were a student?
JB: Probably only the Ouellettes. They were working in the health center and they are still here part-time now. Ms. Halliday, she is retired now. And Cloutman also. They were here when I started working here. Mr. Taupier, he comes in now frequently for proctoring exams. He was also a teacher here when I started working.
SC: No Mr. Weidman? No Mr. McMahon?
JB: No. Weidman actually started in 1989, the year after I graduated, so I missed him by a year.
SC: What about Mr. Dewdney and Ms. Howe?
JB: They also started the same year as Weidman started.
I did overlap, in terms of other faculty members. Mr. Beaupré was a senior while I was a sophomore. I remembered Mr. Beaupré as another student.
SC: Wow, what an interesting overlap. Thank you so much for your time – we’re glad to have another fantastic alumnus on the KUA faculty.