24 Hours in the Life of KU
Fred Whitehead, Security Officer, Public Safety Office
Equipped with his tools - a small flashlight, a pocket-sized notebook, a pen, and a set of master keys - Security Officer Fred Whitehead takes the first of thousands of steps he will log before dawn breaks the following morning.
Whitehead makes his way through the labyrinth of hallways and stairways that characterize so many of KU’s buildings. He greets dozens of late-night studiers he meets along his route, kindly letting them know when their building closes for the night.
There’s an uncomplicated, physical nature to the work - checking exterior doors to ensure they’re locked and locking the ones that aren’t, turning off lights, closing open windows. The simplicity of his movements is misleading and doesn’t reflect the value of visual inspection. He checks fire escapes to make sure they’re free from obstructions, that doors aren’t propped open, and that computer labs are appropriately appointed and secured for the night.
The serious nature of his responsibilities motivates him through the late-night shift. Whitehead keeps a quick pace, but stops briefly to jot notes of things out of the ordinary, all of which go into a report at the end of his workday. Studios and shops get special attention from Whitehead. Tools, appliances and equipment that generate heat or have an open flame are given a quick check to make sure they are off or unplugged.
Whitehead, who’s been in the role 10 years, appreciates the independence that comes with the responsibilities. As long as the rounds are completed, he can set his pace, choose his route. And there’s a satisfaction that comes from contributing to the security and personal safety of the students, faculty, and staff he encounters on his rounds. Perhaps the best perk, though, is seeing the ever-changing art, designs, and projects that students put on display.
Sgt. Tom Wiseman, KU Police
Variability is a hallmark of Sgt. Tom Wiseman’s days and nights. As a sergeant with KU Police, Wiseman is an officer with the added role of supervisor. He’s in charge of the shift and makes sure all the officers follow policies. He also proofs reports, offers support for officers in the field, answers calls himself and, in general, enforces all state and local laws.
“I never know what I’m going to be doing. It’s never boring.” Sergeants rotate from day shifts to night shifts every three months. Depending on staffing levels during a given shift, Wiseman must be ready to respond to calls on campus. Wiseman also may be called upon to provide guidance as officers conduct their work, usually when an incident is something out of the ordinary or because it is particularly severe. That variability can lead to long days – as many as 20 hours worked nonstop.
Police work is much more than “catching bad guys.” Officers have a desire to serve people and Wiseman likes to help people realize they can make contributions to the good of the community as well. “We provide a service and we’re there to help. But crimes are solved with the help of the community. It’s probably the most important thing. We need the community as much as the community needs us. It goes hand in hand.”
Andrew Miller, Emergency Communications Specialist, Public Safety Office
When you get Andrew Miller on the phone, you can tell him all kinds of things, but what he really wants to know — needs to know — is your location and your phone number. Your safety and the safety of others could depend on it. He can send help to your location. He can reconnect if the conversation is cut short.
As an emergency communications specialist, what most people call a dispatch operator, Miller answers both 911 and non-emergency calls that come into the Public Safety Office. “We’re the voice on the other end of the line. We’re the help you need – the calm, rational voice.” He came to KU in January 2017, but with prior experience in emergency communications for Douglas County.
Eighty percent of the time, the number of calls overnight is low. Dispatchers will use those lulls to complete records searches through the National Crime Information Center. The other 20 percent of the time can test one’s composure. Most of the calls coming in are for health-related needs, although a variety of emergencies can and do happen all at once. Although the calls may be limited at night, Miller’s ears are still at work monitoring radio traffic filled with code language of 10-45s, 10-9s, 10-13s, and the occasional 10-92.
Those codes tell a story all their own and that’s something that appeals to Miller. “I like having a job that comes with stories. It’s never the same day-to-day. There’s always something new.” But the real satisfaction comes from knowing he’s helping others in their moment of need. “Getting people the help they need is why I do the job.”
Curtis Lindberg, IT Support Technician, Network Operations Center, Information Technology
Sitting in front of a bank of computer monitors deep inside the Price Computing Center, Curtis Lindberg keeps his eyes on the fate of the university. “If this office is not fully operational then almost all work stops – even classes can’t take place.” He’s one of a handful of employees who monitor all KU’s computing systems, servers, and networks. Most everything it takes to efficiently run an institution is spread out among 1,400 computer servers at KU: Blackboard, Enroll & Pay, Oracle, websites and more.
If there are system or services failures, Lindberg, who’s been at KU for 12 years, takes steps to resolve the issue and documents the efforts for future review. Proper action can include rebooting a system or contacting the originator to further troubleshoot the issue. He takes pride in his team and in his ability to recognize a problem and knowing what to do.
As lead operator on the 3rd shift, he knows there are plenty of KU folks who burn the midnight oil like he does. “We get calls on Blackboard log-in issues, at least one a night, sometimes two or three.” The overnight hours suit him. After working 30 years for a Fortune 500 corporation, he finds the time less stressful. Getting to watch the sunrise through one of the security camera feeds is just an added bonus.
Kyndol Ohlhausen, IT Support Technician and Batch Processing, Network Operations Center, Information Technology
Anyone who likes receiving a paycheck can thank Kyndol Ohlhausen. As the IT support technician who supports batch processing for HR and financial needs, she’s a crucial member of KU’s larger payroll team. “I work with Carruth (Human Resource Management) and make sure the files all get to Topeka so we all get paid.” Ohlhausen monitors the progress of the payroll computing job and makes sure the final output is delivered to appropriate administrators in state government.
Ohlhausen also has been a key player in KU’s Financial Systems Transformation, which is migrating files and processes to the cloud on Dec. 4. “I’m working with others to process that same file in FITC (Financials In The Cloud). They have to make sure it all works.”
She keeps a variable schedule of day shifts and one or two overnight shifts a week in the Price Computing Center. For those overnight shifts she monitors KU’s network infrastructure and computing systems. There’s not one particular aspect of the work she finds more important than another – payroll, Internet, Blackboard, batch processing. “It’s all important. I don’t take any of it for granted.” The challenge of the tasks and the people she encounters day in and day out make the job fulfilling. After 20 years at KU, there’s no hesitation in her voice when asked why she does it. “The people I work with all across campus. It’s never boring for long. There’s always a challenge.”
Carla Ramirez, facilities manager, Shankel Structural Biology Center, Office of Research
Facilities managers are an elite group of first-responders when it comes to KU’s many research facilities. Carla Ramirez, a 20-year employee at KU, is committed to the fulltime work schedule and the on-call life that’s attached to her role. Nicknamed “la reina” (the queen), she runs the daily operations of the Shankel Structural Biology Center, where she’s been since 2008, with cool efficiency and ease. Shifts from the norm don’t seem to bother her. “I’m adaptable to change. ‘Don’t sweat it.’” She’s also the first to step up when an alarm goes off or a calamity strikes. Like the time the pipes burst in the SBC and she came in after hours to begin the clean-up process. Or when the air-handler in the building shuts down.
Delicate research projects and specimens may need precise climate control around the clock or disaster may follow. Ramirez must be aware of all deliveries to ensure researchers get their samples in good condition and that new equipment goes to the correct lab.
She helps maintain access privileges to the various labs in the SBC and tackles a variety of other building tasks. Although there’s only one facilities manager for the building, Ramirez works closely with other facilities managers on the West District. “Ann Smith (FM of the Multidisciplinary Research Building) and I are a team. She knows that when she’s away or out sick, I have her back and she has mine.” All the facilities managers meet regularly to keep abreast of changes or activities on the horizon. They also work closely with Facilities Planning and Development, Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities Services. “Communication is the key. … If you know people and respect them, you know you’re going to get things done. It will get accomplished.”
Steven Johnson Jr., Scholarship Halls Complex Director, KU Student Housing
Steven Johnson Jr. quickly offers a breezy description of his position at KU “My job is to support the student in their on-campus residential community and help them see how it ties in with their larger KU experience.” But take a step back and the size of task becomes clearer. As scholarship hall complex director, Johnson oversees 12 different buildings and residential communities, 6 graduate assistant staff, 24 undergraduate staff, and 600 residents.
Classrooms aren’t the only spaces on campus where students grow personally and professionally. “Learning also happens here. We’re committed to helping students know this is part of their educational experience,” encouraging them to adopt or reinforce academic behaviors and habits that help them be successful.
“I spend time making sure students meet community standards.” He also helps them learn the ebbs and flows of the academic calendar – peak times for tests and assignments – and how to manage their time. “I see myself as a connector, understanding how the university works and connecting with the students and helping them navigate the rest of campus.”
Johnson advises the scholarship hall graduate student assistants, who aspire to enter the field of student affairs. But his favorite activity is advising the all schol-hall council. “They are the voice, the voice of the students here.” He’ll help the council set priorities of and for the community – what their wants and needs are. He’ll guide them to develop an action plan and work with them to ensure they are progressing toward their goals, including revising the plan as needed.
Johnson also has a sweet commute. His office in the Crawford Community Center is just two steps away from his residence in the Crawford Community Center. His passion for students and the work he does is barely contained. “I love my job. … The impact I have on students, when I think of my experiences, it makes me happy.”
Connie Shaw, information booth attendant, KU Parking & Transit
Connie Shaw is used to making split-second decisions. As an attendant in one of KU’s three information booths she is a greeter, an encyclopedia, an interpreter, a diplomat, an enforcer, and a conductor.
Chief among her concerns is keeping traffic moving. When a confused or lost visitor arrives at the booth, traffic may start to back up. “The buses have to stay on schedule.” If she can’t offer a solution within seconds, she’ll pleasantly ask the visitor to pull around for more detailed information. The NuPark system that records license plate numbers of vehicles at her booth has vastly simplified record-keeping from what she needed to do 10-years earlier. Still, every vehicle that passes through needs her approval or an appropriate permit in the system.
Shaw strives to find out what brings people to campus, where they need to be, how long they expect to stay and whether there are any special circumstances that should be noted. She has to be a mind reader, being able to see the signs that someone important is running a little late to a meeting, or able to understand the slightly off pronunciation of the various halls on campus. She uses her extensive knowledge of the roads and lots to give accurate and precise directions.
Above all Shaw strives to share correct information and a welcoming smile with all who come to campus. “I love what I do. I love assisting people.”
Jan Akers, Accounting specialist, College and Professional School SSC (Department of Chemistry)
Attention to detail matters in the lab. It’s also a key element of tasks necessary for balancing the books. Working in collaboration with her officemate, Jan Akers cares for a multitude of financial transactions undertaken by the Department of Chemistry.
The volume is astounding. Akers orders the chemicals, gas cylinders and other lab materials needed to keep the Chemistry labs functioning seamlessly. When she receives word that it’s time to place an order, Akers is the one who’ll check to ensure KU has the best price option and she’s the one who’ll troubleshoot the delivery if the fulfillment isn’t quite right. She also handles the travel expenses for an influential department that’s in demand and on the move. Whether she’s verifying and approving transactions for students, faculty or visiting scholars, Akers knows which of the many funds can be used to pay which expenses.
“We just have a huge volume (of transactions)” she said, later adding that she reconciles about 450 different invoices each month.
She sees her role at KU as a customer service position. “Faculty need to be teachers, not accountants. I need to relieve them of those tasks so they can do their job - to rely on me enough to get the job done.”
Michelle Curttright, Library Annex Manager, KU Libraries
On any given day Michelle Curttright and her team of two others need to find and retrieve 50 items out of 1.7 million possible choices. So how she and her team catalog and store all of KU’s low-use books, journals, monographs and special collections — all 1.7 million of them — matters.
The Library Annex on KU’s West District promises 24-hour turnaround, Monday through Friday, when a request for a stored volume comes to its attention. Curttright manages a high-density storage system in the annex that tosses aside the Dewey Decimal System in favor of technological advances that let Curttright sort low-use items by dimension, scan their barcodes and catalog their new location with computing tools. To retrieve an item, Curttright uses the database to find the item’s home in the annex and operates a high-rise forklift to navigate a multi-row storage facility where the shelves rise nearly 40 feet and seem to stretch back forever. The setting is reminiscent of the government warehouse in the final scenes of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Curttright has been working at the annex since 2007, but began working at the Libraries while still a KU student. She sees the physical benefits the annex offers campus. “By bringing things here we open up space for offices, for students to study, for presentations.” The superior quality control at the annex – 50 degrees and 30 percent humidity – helps ensure the items will remain in good condition for years to come. “It’s not like the Libraries is getting rid of anything. It’s still here.”
Paula Naughtin, academic adviser, School of Education
Paula Naughtin sees many School of Education students at every stage during their time at KU. She assists with admissions processing. She takes part in New Student Orientation as well as admitted student advising. She helps ensure school-specific scholarship funds go to as many students as possible. And when the students have completed their programs, Naughtin is the one who orchestrates the fall and spring recognition ceremonies for graduates. “I like advising the most (she works closely with students in unified Early Childhood Education, elementary education and Health and physical education programs), but the great thing about the job is I always have something different coming up.”
“Advising is the most important, all of it is important, but advising is huge.” That means really listening to students and searching for signs of doubts. After 25 years in the School of Education, the last 20 of which doing advising, Naughtin has observations to share. “People don’t realize that advising has changed. Students come in with so many more issues today.” An adviser’s role is to help students find their way through an academic program and find the assistance they need to handle life challenges as well. “You need to be supportive and organized so (the students) can succeed in their classes and go out and make the world a better place.”
Brittany Fellers, receptionist, School of Pharmacy
Like many office staff members, Brittany Fellers is tasked with a multitude of responsibilities and assignments. The variety in her work at the School of Pharmacy is part of what makes the job a delight. Greeting students and visitors is only a small portion of her daily efforts. Answering phones, scheduling rooms, assisting with admissions documentation, course catalog updates, helping with special events, orchestrating building access, scheduling appointments, supplying answers, devising solutions.
Her work week can bring anything, and she takes pride in the effort. “That feeling of getting things done. I really do enjoy coming in and working with everyone. Making sure everyone feels, at the end of the day, that I was helpful, and we accomplished something. Making sure that when people come in it’s a welcoming space.” She’s quick to add “I’m lucky to work with the people I do. I love working with the students. They’re awesome and very appreciative… The candy jar helps.”
She said as a student at KU she may have overlooked how much KU employees do for students. One thing she wants others to know now is how dedicated people are to the students. “We’re here to support students, make sure they succeed and go on to fulfilling careers.”
Paul Baker, omelet chef, catering division of KU Dining
Wednesday mornings in Strong Hall can make your mouth water. That’s when Paul “Chez Paul” Baker can be found in the first-floor rotunda preparing made to order omelets for hungry students, faculty and staff. All paying customers get more than just an omelet cooked to their specifications. Chez Paul peppers the diners with corny jokes befitting the punniest grandfather.
His “one-man show” also makes regular appearances in Anschutz Library and LEEP2. But Baker makes it clear. He’s part of an amazing team that preps all the ingredients, drives him and the food and equipment to the venue and picks everything up and cleans it all up when the pop-up food stand closes for the day. “There’s a lot of support I get in doing this.”
As Baker sautés the potatoes and mushrooms he seizes his chance unload a bad joke (Q. What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back? A. A stick.) and to open a conversation with his diners, newbies and regulars alike. He gets to know many of his patrons by name.
It’s a part-time gig that he’s held for a dozen years. His estimate of 100 omelets a week during the fall and spring is bringing him closer and closer to a career high of 40,000 KU omelets. (Q. What do you call a cow with two legs? A. Lean beef.)
Baker loves his work and loves that the only pressure in the job is when the line of diners gets a little long. “It’s so much fun.”
Tanner Willbanks, room scheduler, University Registrar
Think about Tetris on steroids and you’ll begin to get a feel for Tanner Willbanks’ work responsibilities. Willbanks is the scheduler for all centrally scheduled classrooms, about 200 of them, on the Lawrence campus. It involves room optimization for every semester schedule, taking all the variables into account – course enrollment size, course style, technology needs, classroom capacity. He works closely with scheduling officers in the academic units, as well as with the registrar office class schedulers sitting 5 feet away from him. The physical proximity comes in handy when making accommodations. The team can discuss class needs and avoid potential difficulties down the line.
At the moment, he’s working on the assignment of classrooms for Fall 2017 finals. “We have a rotation of finals published online. Although, sometimes we have to allow a non-standard class.” When a conflict arises, it’s Willbanks’ task to find another centrally scheduled classroom that can accommodate the course. Sometimes it means finding the closest available room that can handle the size of the class. Sometimes it means finding a room with a similar class set-up.
Willbanks also manages room requests for events and activities that occupy those university managed spaces. “My days are usually different. I never know what events I’m going to be scheduling.” The online reservation request form hints at the variables Willbanks considers every day but doesn’t tell the tell the whole story. There are hundreds of requests every semester. The Academic Achievement and Access Center alone places between 150 to 200 room requests each semester to offer tutoring, supplemental instruction and testing services. Willbanks also works to track down needed technology — even the occasional VHS tape player — required for events with presentations or instruction.
Richard Klocke, exhibits manager, Spencer Museum of Art
There’s no hiding Richard Klocke’s exuberance for where he works. “I’m in heaven working in the art world. I feel privileged to be working here.” The “here” is the Spencer Museum of Art, where Klocke works with curators to design optimal display options for exhibits, crafting cases, hardware and fixtures that ensure works of art get the attention their creators envisioned and the protection the items deserve.
An 18-year veteran at KU, Klocke is in awe of the possibilities the museum provides the KU community and his role in that opportunity. “Just being in the atmosphere, working in an area where there’s the chance to teach and influence others.” He points to the team he’s part of — Dan, and Doug, and the curators — together they work to figure out how an exhibit fits in the space. “It’s not just me.”
He likes that he contributes to a teaching institution and is part of efforts to create a space where people can learn that art touches them no matter where they are. To that end he’s also helped design the Spencer’s distinctive classroom display racks, large panels of white enameled metal along the length of the wall that can be modified to accommodate several pieces of art of varying sizes. And like the panels, museums themselves are flexible, changing spaces, Klocke said. “It’s pretty cool. My part is one little slice of the whole thing. I just try to live it to the fullest.”
Kelly Blackburn, SSC manager, Education, Social and Behavioral SSC
Numbers tell the story in Kelly Blackburn’s workday. But that’s not the only the only thing that matters. Blackburn manages nine Shared Service Center staff that support researchers and faculty in several units of the university. Every week, the staff share a project spotlight that captures the essence of one of the many research endeavors they assist with. Kelly and her team provide up-to-date budget reports to principal investigators and project directors of roughly 350 different research projects currently underway. They assist with managing all aspects of the projects - everything from hiring staff, to financial management, to project closeout.
“It’s a lot of coordination, not only with the SSCs but also the offices we’re supporting.” Blackburn holds face-to-face meetings with PIs every month to keep them apprised of the current financial state of the project, review upcoming deadlines, and look at upcoming purchases and expenditures. “They are ultimately responsible for the funds in their project, but they can’t do that without us.” In those monthly meetings, staff will work with PIs to explore all the different options that can help the researcher use their funds within the constraints of the funding agencies. “The staff of the SSCs are phenomenal. They are very flexible”
Blackburn enjoys the challenge the job presents. “Research (support) to me is like a big puzzle — figuring out how to use the expenditure and still meet the goals.” The variety of research areas and projects she and her team support is both a source of motivation and pride, too. Those weekly project spotlights ensure the work is about more than just numbers populating a spreadsheet. It’s about understanding and preventing child abuse, or about finding new paths to academic success.
Sharon Leatherman, assistant director of Building and Event Services, Kansas Union
During the past fiscal year, campus offices and student organization reserved spaces in KU Union facilities more than 10,000 times. Whether planning began two weeks out for a small group meeting or more than a year in advance for a large conference, Sharon Leatherman was there to help sweat the details.
Leatherman, who’s been with the Union for a little less than 10 years, has been in her current role since July 2016. She likes working with all the different KU entities and knowing something about their interests and missions. “We are really invested in the success of your event. We care, and we try to be creative with the spaces and equipment we have.” Connecting with clients helps make sure the job is done right.
“We’re trying to gear ourselves to the customer experience. ‘How do you want people to feel as they leave?’” She strives to help offices and student organizations bring their ideas to life by assembling the tools and associated Union services to make it so.
The role requires attention to detail and communication. Leatherman works with other professional operations staff, part-time staff, custodial staff as well as student staff. “If we don’t tell them what’s needed then the event falls apart.” The level of work is picking up, too. Reservations are now available for the new Burge Union, which opens in April.
Mary Ann Graham, systems manager, KU Card Center
You may be a VIP, but if you’re not on one of Mary Ann Graham’s lists, you’re not getting in. As systems manager for the KU Card, Graham maintains the data and the readers in the CS Gold system that allows access to many of KU’s academic, residential and research buildings, as well as specific rooms and laboratories across campus.
Over the course of the summer, peak season at the KU Card Center, Graham and her officemates issue about 6,000 new KU ID cards to incoming students, as well as new faculty and staff. Each card has a chip and a magnetic strip that requires authentication. Each card offers access to library services and student IT printing services. Each card can be linked to a banking account and to other funds to be used for food and residence hall laundry services.
“There are always projects and things to get done.” There’s more on the horizon, too. Graham loves the fieldwork involved in her job, primarily programming and commissioning KU’s 1,300 readers on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses and the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson. “I’m very lucky because I’ve been in almost every building. I get to interact with a lot of people — students and staff.”
She recently finished commissioning readers for Cora Downs Hall and is about to start programming 65 readers for Ritchie and Slawson Halls of the Earth, Energy and Environment Center. She’ll work with faculty and facilities managers to identify all the specific undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff who should have access to the halls and what hours they may need to be in the structures. And the lists are always in flux. In the months ahead, she’ll do the same for KU’s new apartments, the new Burge Union and the Integrated Science Building.
Cade Cruickshank, broadcast engineer, School of Journalism and Mass Communications
In his 21 years at KU, Cade Cruickshank has witnessed the progression of technology that has been a boon for journalism students and others interested in broadcast opportunities. As broadcast engineer, he oversees the equipment and supervises talented staff who also help students master the tools essential to their future profession in electronic media.
He makes sure the equipment works properly and assists with equipment setup at the J-School’s two production studios - the studio in the Dole Center and the Media Crossroads in Anschutz Library - as well as at remote broadcast sites for a variety of events including arts and sports venues. For those in the know, the KU-MU Border War never died. Cruickshank has helped broadcast students cover the KU Quidditch and KU Club Hockey teams in their Missouri matches.
“There’s something new every day. We have some quality students who are energetic and focused.” Cruickshank is proud of the level of real-world experience KU students are able to acquire during their time in Lawrence. That early experience in the studios and in the field translates into intern positions, part-time jobs and ultimately full-time offers with area TV, cable and production studios.
Cruickshank stresses he’s part of a dedicated team. “We’re small enough, it’s like family.” The things that matter most to him? “The students, the variety of things we work on and the people we work with. I have a great boss, who’s very supportive of all our endeavors.”
Maureen Cole, education program coordinator, Health Education Resource Office, Watkins Health Services
Maureen Cole knows how to draw a crowd. As the Health Education Resource Office program coordinator focusing on stress management and self-management, she’s seen the effect that the Pause for Pups service animals have on KU students. “They just gravitate in. The Pause for Pups is pretty immediate stress relief.”
The canine intervention is one of many activities Cole coordinates to help students help themselves. Cole can be found at Watkins Health Service as well as at presentations and tabling events across campus. Topics range from tips and tools to manage stress and information about healthy living and available resources. When finals week approaches HERO will host stress-busting events for students. “We believe that well-being is the key to success. There are a lot of resources available to students, but people may not be aware. We’ll get them where they need to go.”
Cole first started at KU in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences seven years ago. The opportunity to earn a master’s degree in health education and psychology of physical activity gave her the knowledge and tools she needed for a career change. “The idea that I can have a positive impact on students and their success is pretty powerful and gets me up in the morning.”
Emily Gullickson, education program specialist, Office of Multicultural Affairs
Emily Gullickson meets with KU students whenever and wherever they are — figuratively and literally. In her role at the Office of Multicultural Affairs she leads training and information sessions across campus and well into the evening that help students understand issues related to diversity and why those issue matter to everyone. That journey of self-work and discovery finds students across a broad spectrum of understanding. There’s no single starting point and no final destination.
“I go all over campus. I’m very intentional in how I engage in the spaces.” She tries to lead by example as she talks about white privilege and her other identities. Her goal is to move the conversation and validate folks with marginalized identities. One of her most significant activities of the year is the annual Tunnel of Oppression, which accommodated more than 1,000 visitors last week. “It’s not just a job. It’s emotional labor. I’m really grateful I get to work with some pretty amazing folks.”
Gullickson, who began working at OMA in 2015, will soon issue a call for applicants to the Social Justice Fellows, a faculty and staff program she was able to kickoff here. It’s one of many activities and responsibilities she manages. Last year she led more than 55 programs on topics ranging from social justice, to cultural competency, to microaggressions, and more. She also is involved across campus as a member of University Senate, Staff Senate, and is involved in the KU Powwow and Indigenous Festival, which will be March 31 next year.
Judy Hamner, Functional Systems Manager, assistant director of Financial Management Systems, Comptroller’s Office
The work coming through Judy Hamner’s office, Financial Management Systems, touches a lot of people at KU. Anyone who purchases with a P-card or who travels gets some behind-the-scenes assistance. “We are here to support the FS functions that everyone uses and make sure that is as smooth as possible.” The work is both technical and functional. “Computers don’t always function the same from day-to-day, and it’s the same with financial systems. If something breaks in the system, we go in and fix it for them.”
Hamner likes the troubleshooting aspect of her work. “I’m a problem-solver. I enjoy digging in and finding a solution. It’s always different.” Her coworkers also make the endeavors worthwhile. “We have a great team. I like the people I work with a lot.”
The office’s work is taking on added importance as the university nears the deadline for the Financial Systems Transformation. Hamner and her team are working nonstop to get ready for the transition. Hamner and her team are currently testing with a small group of targeted users and converting data in the current PeopleSoft system so KU users can access their information on day 1.
Her long days won’t end after the transition goes live. Hamner knows there will be patches and upgrades and probably some other fixes on the horizon. She’s hoping campus partners will see her office as an ally. “If they have a problem we’d love to hear about it and make it better. We’re on their side.”
Christina Boyd, program coordinator, Western Kansas Master of Social Work Program in Hays and Garden City, School of Social Welfare
Christina Boyd is an army of one, crisscrossing the plains of central and western Kansas in her vehicle. As program coordinator for the School of Social Welfare’s Western Kansas Master of Social Work program her duties are as varied as the day is long. She coordinates all aspects of the program – recruitment of students, field instructors, adjunct faculty, and practicum sites. She conducts advising and oversees placement of practicum students. She serves as a liaison for the two outreach campus locations at Fort Hays State University and Garden City Community College. And she’s often on the road promoting the program to prospective students as well as raising awareness about KU’s work to combat health inequity in rural Kansas.
The job requires agility and flexibility. Boyd often works out of her home near Jetmore. Teleconferencing tools help her be efficient with time and stay connected over such a large geographical area, but there are times when the effort requires in-person connections and long nights on the road home. “I recently drove up to 1,400 miles in two weeks as part of managing practicum issues, info sessions and other recruitment activities.”
Boyd is passionate about her job and about preserving life in western Kansas and other rural areas. “I am very proud to be part of a project that offers the opportunity for individuals who live in the western, rural part of the state to get a graduate degree. It also increases the likelihood that these same individuals who work and raise families in this area will stay and practice. The need for behavioral health clinicians in rural parts of our state are so needed.”
Danny Bowman, custodial services, Lied Center for the Performing Arts
Time management is a crucial part of Danny Bowman’s job. As part of the team of Facilities Services custodians at the Lied Center, he is charged with keeping the performing arts hall looking great. That can be challenging when taking into account the number of events and thousands of visitors the venue routinely draws. In addition to typical cleaning and care activities, Bowman and his teammates will also set up for a variety of activities that never grab the attention of the headlining performances the Lied Center hosts.
“There’s a lot of switch out. We may have one event that everyone knows about, but three other things no one else knows.” The Lied Center’s flexible spaces can host dinners, lectures, receptions, and small performances - each requiring a differing layout of chairs, dining and catering tables, reception tables, and stands and lecterns. Often there is a short window of time between when guests leave one event and a new set of guests begin arriving for the next. Planning and preparation are key to being able to tear down the setting after one event, clean the site, then properly set up for the next activity. Knowing what’s on the schedule the following day helps, too. A little extra effort at the end of an evening shift can make the next day’s effort significantly easier.
Bowman, who’s been in the role for nearly six years, enjoys working at the Lied and especially appreciates the variety it brings to his life. “I’ve been introduced to stuff I probably never would have seen. It’s broadened my horizons a little. … It’s always different. Anything can be going on. Plus, the people are great, too.”