IT Profile: Stephen Kostewicz

Stephen KostewiczAugust is SPICE IT Up Month at the college. We are going to learn all about IT, what it can do for us, and of course security policies and procedures that ensure our systems run safely, effectively and legally. Watch for profiles of your favorite IT people on the web site all month. Were starting with Stephen Kostewicz, IT Director. Enjoy!

Stephen has been a Gainesville resident off and on since the age of 4. He earned his degree in Astrophysics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and initally worked as a lab tech for Dr. Anusavice and Dr. Clark before moving to Dallas and working in a scientific forensics laboratory. In 1992, he moved to Japan for four years and taught English to adults. In 1994, he started his own school after making some headlines by helping form a teachers’ union and taking action in support of foreign born teachers.

Steve returned to Gainesville in 1996 and earned his masters degree in computer engineering from UF. His thesis was based on writing an expert system for caries risk assessment, which brought him back to our college as a graduate and research assistant. After a stint in the dot-com world he came back to manage the QuickRecovery implementation, and was promoted to IT director in 2005.

In 2000, Stephen happened to bump into a high school classmate at a local chinese grocery, and a year later they were married. He has twins, a boy and a girl, who start kindergarten this month. He is an avid soccer player and enjoys playing all sports with scores but not judges.

Your most marked characteristic?
Ask one of my kids – “DADDY HAS NO HAIR!”

What is your favorite way to spend your time?
Completely lost in whatever it is I’m doing. If I make a great save and can’t really remember the play, I’m happy because I know I was “in the zone” and was 100% disconnected from anything except the game. Back in my programmer days, I used to look up from the computer and realize I had been deep in the code for hours, missed lunch and dinner, and I really gotta go.

What do you most value in your friends?
Don’t be a flake. I’ve had the same group of closest friends for about 30 years now and it is because we respect each other, behave rationally, and generally are excellent to each other.

What would you like to be?
I would like to be always improving.

Where would you like to live?
I’ve enjoyed living pretty much everywhere I’ve been except Dallas (yeesh). If you look you can find things you like almost anywhere. My favorites so far have been Madison, Wisc., and Kyoto, Japan.

What is your favorite color?

What is your motto?
I have two sayings I really like: “No single raindrop believes it is responsible for the flood,” and “If something is really tough, that’s just another chance to show them what you’ve got.”

Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Kyuzo from Seven Samurai (

What was your strangest job?
My brief stint testing the crunch factor of potato chips. It was a QA position and we measured the force needed to crunch the chip, which is where my physics background came in handy.

What is your most treasured possession?
My word. If I tell someone I’m going to do something, I will go to great lengths to honor my promise.

Which words or phrases do you most over-use?
“Sorry, that is against security policy.” I wish I didn’t have to say that so much, but that is the world we live in now.

Who has been the greatest influence on you?
What can you say here besides your parents? Being a parent is the most profound gift one can provide. Even if you wind up completely changing and taking the opposite tack from the way your parents tried to bring you up, it is still in that context.