Kelly Caringer might wear many hats in his job as chief instructional media systems engineer in SIU’s Center for Teaching Excellence, but each plays an important part in helping faculty, staff and students succeed.
From using his technological wizardry, mentoring student employees with career and academic advice, promoting inclusive excellence by regularly pitching technology he believes will support students with disabilities and providing audio-visual information in a calm, easy-to-understand manner, Caringer is also noteworthy as SIU’s 2023 university-level Staff (Civil Service) Award winner, one of eight Excellence Awards to honor faculty and staff for superior scholarship and creative endeavors, teaching and service. The award is for a staff member whose performance goes above normal job requirements in furthering the university’s mission that contributes to student success.
Craig Engstrom, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and associate professor in the School of Communication Studies, said Caringer’s “professional training and commitment to higher educational goals align well with our university’s commitment to teaching, robust creative activity, meaningful service, inclusive and effective teaching and hands-on learning opportunities.”
Engstrom also notes that with Caringer’s efforts, SIU has the “best-in-class audio-visual system unavailable to faculty and staff at any other university in a 300-mile radius” of the Carbondale campus and that Caringer’s expertise has also saved SIU at least $500,000 in outsourcing costs.
Caringer, who lives in Herrin, is a two-degree SIU graduate with a master’s degree in professional media management and doctorate in mass communication and media arts. He also has a bachelor’s degree in recording industry production and technology from Middle Tennessee State University. He has been involved with the Herrin City Library for several years, including serving as secretary to the library board since 2021.
“There are so many incredibly talented and dedicated people on our campus that, above all, I feel honored to have been recognized for my contributions,” he said. “I’m certainly in good company.”
Get to know: KELLY CARINGER
Name: Kelly Caringer
Center for Teaching Excellence, chief instructional media systems engineer.
Years at SIU Carbondale: Eight.
Give us the elevator pitch for your job.
I design and oversee the installation of multimedia presentation systems in classrooms, laboratories and auditoriums on the Carbondale campus.
What is the favorite part of your job?
On one hand, I enjoy assisting academic units with identifying simple yet elegant solutions to complex technical problems. On the other hand, I really enjoy getting my hands dirty. So, it’s an interesting job, in that I initiate projects by thinking deeply and innovatively about what system features would be most beneficial to faculty and students, and then follow through by switching hats, grabbing my soldering iron and executing an outstanding system installation.
Why did you choose SIU?
I recognized the need for a critical technologist on the Carbondale campus, who could assess and improve upon our learning spaces. Pedagogically, that’s where the rubber meets the road. My father earned a graduate degree from SIU Carbondale when I was a child, I earned two graduate degrees from SIU Carbondale, and my son is finishing up his undergraduate studies here; so, I guess I’m a Saluki through-and-through!
My favorite activity away from work is …
Well, I was first trained as an audio recording engineer; so, I love to record musical ensembles and nature/weather soundscapes. I’m also a lifelong musician who has played bass guitar for a very long time. I love woodworking and watercolor painting. And I just took up kayak fishing.
At the top of my “bucket list’ is to …
I have never seen a mountain. Seriously! Like, one of those snow-capped, Colorado beauties with a glassy lake and “happy little trees” around it. I hope to cross that off my list soon.