2024 Influential Mainframers

This month, Planet Mainframe celebrates influential mainframers nominated by the community. The field benefits from their efforts in making the mainframe what it is today and working towards the mainframe of tomorrow.

Today we are featuring an educator and mentor who has had a profound impact on his students.

Geoffrey Decker

Instructor, Northern Illinois University Department of Computer Science

DeKalb, Illinois, USA

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Geoffrey Decker’s journey from a music graduate to a leading advocate for mainframe technology exemplifies the diversity of paths found within the mainframe community. With a B.A. in Music from the University of Kansas and an M.S. in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University (NIU), Decker’s professional path has been anything but ordinary. His return to NIU in 2001 marked the beginning of a significant contribution to the field of mainframe education, influencing countless students over his tenure.

Decker’s approach to teaching is anything but conventional. He embodies the essence of a mentor, guiding his students through the complexities of mainframe computing with a blend of expertise and genuine care. His ability to inspire has led many students to discover their passion for mainframes, a sector of the IT industry known for its robustness and critical role in global business operations.

His influence is palpable, as one of his former students notes, “Mr. Decker has been the biggest advocate at my school for the mainframe community…He has opened many opportunities for me to meet new people and make great connections within the mainframe community.” This sentiment is echoed across the board by students who have been fortunate enough to learn under his tutelage.

Decker’s contributions to mainframe education have not gone unnoticed. He is a recipient of three Excellence in Teaching awards from NIU’s Department of Computer Science’s Student Advisory Board, reflecting the profound impact he has had on his students. Beyond the classroom, Decker is an enthusiastic member of SHARE and an IBM Z Champion for three consecutive years, a testament to his expertise and advocacy for mainframe technology.

Outside the classroom, Decker’s interests are as diverse as his career, including a love for classical music, history, and languages. He is a talented musician who plays French horn semi-professionally in the local orchestra and city band. Decker attributes his success to the mentorship of Dr. Robert Rannie and Dr. Rodney Angotti, who were instrumental in his journey. “I am forever grateful to my two mentors in computer science, Dr. Robert Rannie and Dr. Rodney Angotti. Without their support, I would not be where I am today,” Decker reflects.

Geoffrey Decker’s legacy at NIU and in the mainframe community is a testament to his expertise, passion, and unwavering commitment to nurturing the next generation of mainframe professionals.