Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Using Technology to Put Faculty First: Steve Goldenberg Founded Interfolio, a Software Company That Helps More Than 200,000 Faculty and Administrators at Hundreds of Colleges and Universities across the World

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Using Technology to Put Faculty First: Steve Goldenberg Founded Interfolio, a Software Company That Helps More Than 200,000 Faculty and Administrators at Hundreds of Colleges and Universities across the World

Article excerpt

Steve Goldenberg found his calling in technology entrepreneurship as a Georgetown University student nearly two decades ago.

A native of Michigan, he recalls a college tour visit to the D.C.-based school where he would eventually develop the web application that became Interfolio, Inc., a higher education software company that streamlines institutional decision processes and professional development for faculty and administrators.

"I immediately fell in love with the university," Goldenberg says, adding that Georgetown's Jesuit educational mission of educating the "whole person" allowed him to explore various disciplines, especially with his particular interest in entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.

"I made my own major in a way," he says. "I was a self-taught engineer, and I was working through school, writing software, building databases and supporting various units on campus as a student technology employee."

As a student technology employee, Goldenberg assisted the vice president's office, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics (KIE) and another office by running their technology systems. The first-hand experience working closely with faculty and administrators gave Goldenberg insight into how universities operate on multiple levels.

"I got to know the way scholars approach their careers and the way that faculty approach leading their institutions and doing the teaching and research and service work that is the essence of a faculty career," he says.

In one instance, Goldenberg helped a professor at KIE save files on a malfunctioning computer. The professor thanked him and shared with him that her "life's work exists on that computer and nowhere else he recalls. It made him feel connected to "helping scholars deliver on their mission of teaching students and doing research that advances knowledge."

Goldenberg then began to think of ways to use technology to modernize existing dossier services such as the one used by Georgetown's career center in order to make the paper and manual services less cumbersome. He incorporated Interfolio his senior year, in February 1999, and took his product to the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers three days after graduating with a bachelor of science in business administration.

"I spent the time talking to schools that had those dossier services and showed them an internet-based version of it and got a ton of interest from schools about moving it online," Goldenberg says. "We were off to the races!"

Now Goldenberg's role is that of founder, president and chief product officer at Interfolio, a software company that helps more than 200,000 faculty and administrators at hundreds of colleges and universities across the world. Goldenberg also serves as an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business, where he got his start.

Interfolio's mantra of "faculty first" is the "most important characteristic of our company," Goldenberg says. The mantra builds off of Goldenberg's earlier vision for the company to help scholars build successful academic careers.

Several of the services that Interfolio offers stem from Goldenberg and his company's commitment to empathy, equity and transparency in institutional practices. Particularly, the founder says putting himself in the shoes of administrators and faculty enabled him to develop the best tools to support them in their work at their institutions.

"Having our internal structure mirror the structure of higher education in general, it helps us deliver tools and services that are really, truly effective for faculty to be successful in their careers, so that institutions are successful in their missions," Goldenberg says.

Interfolio products help faculty collect and curate their academic materials in their application process for academic jobs; help administrators track faculty intellectual contributions, which is helpful for accreditation and other reporting processes; and help search committees identify, evaluate and recruit a diverse pool of faculty candidates. …

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