February 11, 2002

The University Webmaster Talks

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It would be a safe bet to say that every Cornell University student, faculty and administrator has seen the work of Lisa Cameron-Norfleet. As webmaster of Cornell’s home page (www.cornell.edu), Cameron-Norfleet is responsible for the design and maintenance of Cornell’s face on the Internet.

A graduate of the State University New York-Potsdam with a degree in English literature and physical anthropology, Cameron-Norfleet began working at Cornell in 1994 for Cornell Information Technologies (CIT).

In 1998, she inherited the Cornell home page. “Before the Web evolved, the Internet was only about getting information,” said Cameron-Norfleet. “The Web changed and Cornell needed a new face,” she added.

Before 1996, the Cornell web site was “used primarily for those already affiliated with Cornell,” Cameron-Norfleet said. The site provided information such as exam schedules, athletic schedules and general announcements for Cornell students and faculty. In 1996, the web site evolved and “started catering towards an extended audience of students, both current and perspective, parents and alumni.”

Creating a new image for Cornell on the Internet was and continues to be a difficult project. Using applications like Dreamweaver and Photoshop, Cameron-Norfleet makes basic changes to the Cornell home page on a weekly and monthly basis. Major redesigns of the site, like the one recently introduced, must be approved by Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations, according to Cameron-Norfleet.

“When you are dealing with such a high profile web site, a lot of input comes in,” said Cameron-Norfleet referring to the feedback she receives on a daily basis. Cameron-Norfleet takes this input into consideration when thinking about changes to the home page. She also considers “what kind of face Cornell wants to have.”

” I want people to know what kind of cool, unique things are going on at Cornell,” she said.

The Cornell home page has “no dedicated budget,” according to Cameron-Norfleet. The home page receives funding from the “campus information budget and also from Henrik Dullea’s discretionary funds” she said.

The current Cornell home page is an “interim site” according to Cameron-Norfleet. Cameron-Norfleet, in conjunction with CIT, is “preparing for an overhaul of the site’s infrastructure to create a home page of the future.” CIT is currently working on server upgrades and a portal technology that will enable each Cornell student, faculty, alumni and administrator to create an individualized Cornell home page.

Many students have recently complained that the Cornell home page has been undergoing too many changes. “I can totally understand the frustration many students are feeling,” Cameron-Norfleet said. “This upgrade is a difficult job because this is a very visible site,” she added.

“I like my job,” Cameron-Norfleet said. “I was frustrated [for] my first three years here while other college web sites became slick and good looking.” “I know now that Cornell has one of those slick and good looking sites,” she said.

Archived article by Marc Zawel