Spotlight on MARA Program Coordinator Dr. Pat Franks
Bidding A Fond Farewell - Our Brilliant, Bubbly Pioneer Is Moving On
Published: March 10, 2021 by Melissa Prunty Kemp
Many students have had a course with our MARA Program Coordinator, Dr. Patricia Franks. Her courses dynamically instruct students in foundational skills in archives and records management as well as challenge them to acquire the latest technologies like Blockchain and VR/VW in VCARA. If you haven’t had a course yet, you may have been a part of Dr. Franks’ many webinars and presentations available on the MARA iSchool website. But as all things must end, her instruction and knowledge-sharing will go quiet after May 2021: Dr. Franks is retiring from her position at the MARA iSchool.
If you have not had the chance to get to know Dr. Franks, she is a delightful fount of information and experience. As students will often find is the case with their peers and faculty, disciplinary breadth can be enriching and spark areas of professional and career development. Dr. Franks’ career is an example. Starting out in Business Administration, she shifted her focus to incorporate emerging technologies in the 1980s. By the time she earned her Ph.D. in 2005, Dr. Franks became fully immersed in multiple internet technologies and functions including web design, marketing, library sciences, and archives and records management.
One of the most influential aspects of Dr. Franks’ career is her incessant quest for knowledge. She models the importance of consistent professional development and pursuit of certifications. Since 2005, Dr. Franks has added to her professional breadth Certified Archivist (CA), Information Governance Professional (IGP) and Certified Records Manager (CRM), Certified Information Governance Officer (CIGO), and ARMA International Fellow (FAI). She even recently earned a Blockchain certification and taught a course in Blockchain in archives and records management.
Experience like this has offered students and the MARA department foundation and vision in archives, records management, and in the growing field of information governance. Dr. Franks also showed us the importance of professional and international connections, some of which have brought to our department some of our current professors, past ones like Dr. Lisa Daulby, and our future leaders, such as our new MARA Program Coordinator, Dr. Darra Hofman, who will begin her tenure in June 2021.
Dr. Franks leaves us in great hands. With her departure, I wanted to share her final thoughts, advice, and “things you didn’t know” from her own voice.
MK: Given your degrees, life and work in MARA, ARMA, and NAGARA, your career has been varied with many degrees and certifications. What has driven you to these achievements?
PF: I enjoy teaching and learning–the two go hand in hand. My degrees reflect my interests–and my career has always helped me share what I’ve learned with my students. Certifications help demonstrate that you not only have the knowledge but understand how to apply it in real-world situations–so by earning these certifications I hope I am setting an example for students. My choice of certifications relate directly to the MARA program and are in the areas of archives, records management, and information governance.
MK: Do you have a career experience to share that students might also face? How did you handle it? How would you suggest we do so?
PF: I’ll use my position here at SJSU as an example of not succeeding the first time but keeping your eyes open to the possibilities. I applied to teach a course in 2006 as an adjunct after my “first retirement” and while conducting consulting work. But there was no course for me to teach. At the time a request was made to adjuncts to attend a Faculty Training event in San Jose. Although I felt like a pretender–having never taught for SJSU–I eagerly accepted the invitation and flew out. I immediately felt right at home and knew this is where I wanted to work. In 2007, one course opened up and I accepted the offer. It allowed me to meet some of the fantastic faculty in our school. Then, the MARA program was announced, and I was offered the position of coordinator for 2008-2009 because of my CRM and PhD–still as an adjunct. Again I eagerly accepted. That allowed me to expand my network and become immersed in the curriculum. Also that year a full-time tenure track position was announced and I applied and was accepted for the 2009-2010 year. It actually took me at least 3 years to obtain a full-time position, which I didn’t know I wanted until it was made available. So, my advice is to avoid becoming discouraged, continue to pursue experiences that will better prepare and position you for your next adventure.
MK: What has been your most useful certification or degree? Why? Can you suggest which of these students might find most useful in their career pursuits?
PF: My Certified Records Management (CRM) degree was the most useful, since it was one of the reasons I was offered the position as MARA program coordinator at SJSU. That CRM plus my PhD in Organization and Management with an eBusiness emphasis earned completely online meant I was well suited to this new, 100% online program. I tend to think holistically so one certification was not enough–but if a student is most interested in records management and/or information governance, the CRM is the place to start. Add to that the Information Governance Professional (IGP) and/or Certified Information Governance Officer (CIGO) later on. If a student is most interested in archives, the Certified Archivist (CA) designation should be pursued.
MK: How do you think the archives and records management industries have changed in ways that are truly relevant to students today?
PF: I’ll mention just two ways: 1) Our fields are converging due to the digital environment in which we work–so archivists should understand records management and vice versa. And both should understand the importance of governing data and information–including privacy and security issues. 2) We finally acknowledge that data and information, whether contained in records or not, is an asset of the organization. Information professionals are in a position to lend their expertise to assist the organization in deriving value from their data, information, and records in order to achieve its goals.
MK: What goals, achievements, and aspirations would you encourage students to pursue in ARM and RIM?
PF: I don’t think in terms of concrete goals, achievements or aspirations. I think in terms of enjoying life–my work has always been my hobby. The courses I’ve taken, the degrees and certifications I’ve earned, and the positions I’ve held have been a reflection of my love for learning and teaching–and the domains I’ve decided to focus (organization and management, archival studies, records management, and information governance and assurance) are a reflection of my interests. The fact that those areas are constantly changing is exciting–one must continuously keep abreast of changes in technology as well as society. I am very lucky to be paid to do what I love to do. But that doesn’t mean you should not have a plan.
So, I’d advise students to instead of selecting a specific type of position (e.g., digital curator), focus on a broad domain (e.g., archival studies) and learn all you can about the broad umbrella under which digital curator and a multitude of other job titles appear. Complete your education, obtain experience, build your network, continue to learn–including about related fields, become active in professional organizations (e.g., SAA if archival studies is your passion and/or NAGARA if you desire to work in government), and keep your eyes open for opportunities that are certain to come your way.
MK: What’s a memorable experience you would like to share that would inspire students?
PF: My best memories are of interactions with students and graduates–it is rewarding to see them succeed in their chosen careers. Currently, I am editing The Handbook of Archival Practice. Among the 105 contributors from 6 nations are two graduates of the iSchool who volunteered to contribute. One, Robyn K. Rodgers, completed the MLIS degree in 2013 with the goal of a career in the archival field. She is the Senior Archivist at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The other, Morgan King, graduated from the MARA degree in 2016 with an intent to pursue a degree in records and information management. She is the Global Head of Records and Information Management at Takeda, a pharmaceutical company. The experiences of both graduates should be an inspiration to current students.
MK: Do you have any “if I knew then what I know now” stories you can share with us?
PF: Not really–I suppose I’d have to go way back to high school and take more math, and then to my undergraduate college years and attend those Saturday classes. But other than that, I would not have changed a thing. My husband and I met when I was in junior high school. We married young and grew our family (4 sons) as we pursued our careers. We are now reaping the benefits.
MK: Do you have any last parting thoughts?
PF: You can have it all–family and career. Maybe not exactly as you would have mapped it out but wonderful nonetheless. Just continue to learn and grow and be open to the possibilities that come your way.