Humans of UWL: James Jorstad


Carly Rundle-Borchert

James Jorstad is the Director of IT at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Carly Rundle-Borchert, Photojournalist

James Jorstad is the Director of IT at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. His emails are received by students regarding email phishing attacks that threaten student’s personal information. On Nov. 11 Jorstad began his email with, “While today might be a good day for ice fishing, it’s never a good day to click on phishing links.”

“How do you craft emails that students read? We have tools that track the precise data. Like last year, about 50 percent of the students would open my email. But when’s the best time to send an email? How can I write it so that people will read it? I try to write things that will be of interest, catchy,” said Jorstad.

“I’m a communications major in a technology field, so I have to take very complex things and make it understanding or entertaining, but informative,” said Jorstad.

“I used to go to school here many years ago; I used to work for The Racquet—that would’ve been between ’74 and ’78. I was a [communication] major, but I didn’t think I’d actually be working here as an IT Director. I actually wanted to be a photojournalist, but the pay isn’t as good. About three years ago I was asked to take this position. My background is film production, video and photography and I still do that. In 2011 I was doing work for CNN… I got press passes to cover the president and other dignitaries. There was an event in Milwaukee for Katy Perry, “Hashtag”, which was great. I got into places that many don’t get a chance to, but they used a lot of my material. I would do human interest stories, weather stories. I got to write a book about what it’s like to cover the media from the media’s perspective. That was fascinating ‘cause you’d get press passes to see this stuff. I’d go through the line and secret services would say, ‘Go ahead Jim’. Then you kind of wonder what they know about you as a person but you get great photographs, because you’re right in the thick of what’s going on,” said Jorstad.

“I still do a fair amount of photography but I like video as well. So yeah, I’m still a media guy, but I came to the dark side I guess,” said Jorstad.

“A couple years ago in the fall we had a thousand student accounts that were compromised, because students would click on their phones. So I did a video called “Don’t Click on the Link!” and it became very popular. Other campuses started using it. When I did it I was in a semi-bad mood because it takes 20 minutes to re-up their account. Twenty minutes times 1,000 students is 20,000 minutes, so that was a big undertaking,” said Jorstad.

Jorstad has also done a TEDx talk called Digital storytelling — changing people, perceptions and lives. #humansofuwl

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