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Duren Zhang

Programmer/Analyst, Administrative Information Systems 

Administration Building, Room 320
At OKCU as a student starting in 2011 and on staff since 2015

What do you do in your job? 

Duren works in Administrative Information Systems, which is part of Campus Technology Services. AIS Director Benjamin Chang explained that their department keeps Banner running, along with related projects, system security, integration, and updates. Banner is an administrative operations application suite that manages data including and related to student information, student accounts, finance, human resources, and payroll. 

Duren maintains the database that supports Banner and other applications (for student transcripts, W-2s, etc.), grants new users access to data, and develops web applications, such as the student performance-tracking Early Warning System, a Title IX system, and Student Financial Document Upload System. He has made, modified, or updated almost all of OKCU’s home-grown web apps, he said. He works in many programming languages. 

“What I do is hide behind the system and try not to let you guys notice me,” he said. “If you guys notice me, that means there’s something wrong with the system.” 

“The most important part of my job is to make a user-friendly system for our students and faculty.” 

How did you come to OKCU? 

Duren started as an ELS English language student; moved into the computer science master’s program, which he finished in 2014; began working as a data analyst for Business Intelligence & Reporting in 2015; and then about a year ago, began working for AIS. Duren plans to graduate with his MBA in December 2018. 

Duren moved to Oklahoma from Xi’An Shaanxi Province, a big city in the middle of mainland China. He traveled throughout China during his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering. He wanted to explore a different culture, and he received an offer from OKCU. In his seven years in the U.S., he has crisscrossed the country. 

“I like how quiet and peaceful Oklahoma is,” he said. “It’s a big town. People have their own community. They say hi, and that’s a good thing. You can be yourself in so many ways.”

In contrast in China, people might judge others based on their house, car, job, and more, he said. He thinks it’s easier to be respected and accepted in the U.S. 

What do you like about working here? 

“We have a great family support group. The community is super nice. In my office, everyone is so supportive and understands each other. It’s very easy to communicate. People understand you and trust you to do your job.” 

“As an immigrant, our university is very nice to foreigners,” he said. He was able to get a work visa through OKCU. “I can see my five-year, 10-year future here.” 

Through OKCU and travel, he wants to keep learning and refreshing himself. That also helps him meet new people and gain new perspectives, he said. He wants to learn instrumental music next, perhaps tackling piano. 

What’s something people may not know about you? 

Duren has podcasted almost monthly since 2013, recommending all kinds of music, from opera to pop. The podcast is in Chinese, and it has 2,000–3,000 followers. 

He also sings karaoke a lot—to the extent he has his own machine with specialty speakers from Japan. “There are a lot of karaoke parties at my house,” he said.