Judith Kovenock, 1933-2017
Mar 9, 2017
Judy Kovenock's imprint on the Carolina Population Center is etched in every aspect of the center's success and in the outstanding staff who support its research and training. Judy came to CPC in 1968, two years after the center was established, to work on data collection research projects. She retired in 2004, and her 36-year tenure was marked by many transitions. Her CPC career began with keypunch machines, shifted to 300-baud coupler terminal connections, then a CPC terminal room where anyone who wanted to submit a job to the campus mainframe had to go (sometimes waiting in line) and then patiently wait for scheduled printout pickups from the campus machine room. She later oversaw the purchase of CPC's first IBM PCs in 1983 and the 1984 installation of the first Novell network on the UNC campus, which linked six PCs and a shared printer. She made CPC into a computing powerhouse, with PCs on every desk, sophisticated network servers, and high-speed printers, plotters, and internet connections almost everywhere.
When the center, under Director J. Richard Udry, shifted its focus toward research in 1977, Judy directed the Computer Services Unit and oversaw the development and expansion of its services through a period of striking technological change. She was instrumental in the growth of the center's staff, research portfolio, and reputation for innovative research. Former CPC Director Barbara Entwisle put it succinctly: "Along with Dick Udry, Judy Kovenock made the Center what it is today."
Working with Udry and other members of his research teams, she was a hands-on data manager and analyst, coauthoring manuscripts on gendered behaviors and nonmarital first pregnancies and abortion. One of her last collaborations with Udry was a data collection follow up in 1990-91 to the Child Health and Development cohort and subsequent analyses.
Judy's impact extended far beyond the center. She was a leader in the IT community at UNC and helped organize sessions for computer unit staffers from population centers across the country prior to the Population Association of America's annual meetings to discuss common interests and challenges.
Judy died on February 26, 2017 (see N&O obit) leaving a legacy of strong support for the center's staff. During her time at CPC, she demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the enhancement and expansion of staff skills. In doing so, she was instrumental in making the CPC Computer Services Unit into an exemplary resource for population scientists and trainees. The annual holiday lunch at her home was one of the many ways she thanked the staff, and from 1985 until her retirement in 2004, themed staff photos adorned her office wall and then her home.
In retirement, she made a point of keeping in touch with
many of the staff she hired and mentored several of whom continue to work at
CPC, having lunch at Breadman's to hear about the latest projects and cheer on
their work, or joining in CPC celebrations.
In her honor, contributions can be made to the CPC Staff Training and Development Fund (www.cpc.unc.edu/aboutcpc/make-a-gift), which epitomizes Judy's philosophy of building staff excellence.