Award Honorees

Craig Bantz '04

Safeguarding thousands of people's access to technology is no easy job, but Craig Bantz has made a career out of doing just that.

The work Craig and his team do on a daily basis is difficult, and obstacles can be inevitable at times. "In my IT career there have been many long nights and sometimes multiple days without sleep while we have worked to upgrade systems or solve problems that are keeping our customers from being able to use important services," says Craig. "It gives you a real sense of accomplishment when at the end things have fundamentally shifted for the better."

Reflecting on his time at Minnetonka High School, Craig notes that many of the skills he learned led to his success later in life. "The content I learned in classes was foundational to [my] success in secondary education," he says. "What I really took from MHS were the first steps of critical thinking, in a broader context of history and a much wider world we are all participants in."

At Minnetonka, one teacher that Craig remembers who made a special impact on his life was Tim Laughinghouse. In his senior year, Craig asked Mr. Laughinghouse for a letter of recommendation. The letter he got back was not filled with boilerplate language; rather it was a unique and personal account of Craig's experience in Minnetonka Schools. "I credit that letter as a key moment in my life that helped me learn to seek and accept feedback," says Craig. "Mr. Laughinghouse is the type of person who couldn't hide his great qualities even if he wanted to, and through no deliberate act, he inspires people to make the world a better place."

After graduating from Minnetonka High School in 2004, Craig put himself through college at the University of Minnesota where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in management of technology.

Working his way up from a student worker role at the U of M, Craig went on to become Director of Technology Innovation for the College of Biological Sciences and, later, Associate Chief Information Officer for the entire university. In 2015, he moved to Ohio University where, as Chief Digital Officer, he ensures the school provides students and teachers with the best possible technology experience despite the challenges of a constantly changing field.

In such a short career, Craig has achieved much despite personal struggles including learning to cope with dyslexia. Although he has faced many challenges in his own life, Craig knows that there are still some challenges that he doesn't face alone. "While I have had my share of obstacles in my personal life, I am most proud of the ones I have overcome as part of a team," notes Craig.

When asked what advice he would give to today's students, Craig encourages people to do something that will help make the world a better place. "I do not think it really matters what you choose to do," he says, "as long as you're confident it will fulfill you and it aligns with the positive impact you want to make on the world."


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