The recipient of this year’s Roy Rosenzweig Outstanding Alumnus Award is Jessica Finnefrock. Finnefrock received her M.A. in History at Mason in 2002. During her time at Mason she worked at the Center of History and New Media—now named the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media after its founder and our late colleague, Roy Rosenzweig. Finnefrock worked with faculty to make courses and course materials available on the Internet before major course management systems became widely used on college campuses, and she participated in several projects aimed at helping students to think critically about the Internet as a resource and educational tool. After leaving the Center of History and New Media, Finnefrock worked at the Library of Congress to help make the Library’s American Memory Collection resources accessible to K-12 teachers and students.
In 2002 Finnefrock moved to Blackboard, Inc., the education technology company whose products are now an essential part of the lives of most of our students and teachers. She is now Senior Vice President for Product Development at Blackboard. She leads Blackboard’s development efforts and serves as a member of Blackboard’s corporate executive team. She is now Blackboard’s longest-serving product development chief. She oversees an annual budget of more than $28 million and 180 full-time product development staff members working in locations across the globe. She and her husband also balance working with a 2- and 4-year-old at home.
Mason’s Department of History and Art History has one of the few graduate programs in the country that offers technical training in digital technologies alongside academic training in a traditional humanities field. Finnefrock’s career embodies the possibilities for which we hope to train our students, and we are deeply proud of her accomplishments.