December 21, 2022
When did you join UTHealth Houston? What brought you here?
My family moved to Houston 1989. At the time, I was a high school speech and English teacher in Louisiana. My husband had already gotten a job here, so we joined him at the end of the school year.
Tell me about your work history here.
I joined as an administrative secretary in Technology Management on September 19, 1989, working for Jan Simpson and her boss, Bob Davis. We were part of General Administration, but were housed in GSBS (where the School of Nursing building now sits). I soon began found ways to streamline and pare down some work and began asking for more things to do. I was offered the opportunity to learn TUFIMS and BPPS (our purchasing and payroll systems), which opened up an opportunity to move to another position on campus.
May 27, 1991, I was offered a position in the new department, Office of Academic Computing, led by William Weems, PhD. His team had created GIRCH (the gastro intestinal research center at Houston) and networked his lab and offices. He was now going to lead the push for networking in more areas of campus. He had needed an administrator that could do the department ordering (TUFIMS), personnel hiring (BPPS), and teach classes on networking and the Internet. I was uniquely tailored to that position. Additionally, I was to learn to write code, learn to use a 286 computer, then 386 and multiple versions of Mac, a Black Box, and Unix. Every few months, I would find a different computer on my desk and had to learn how that operating system would work. In 1993, at a meeting in Colorado, we heard about a new networking protocol that would run on the “Internet,” so we came home from the meeting and began working with Gopher (a file/folder hierarchical system) that pre-dated the World Wide Web. We built files and folders to share university documents, and the position became more on teaching faculty and staff and creating documents, and less administrative.
By late 1993, I was writing Unix code (another new skill) and creating graphics and pages for our university World Wide Web site. UTHealth Houston was the third WWW site to come online in Texas, and around the 60th in the world. The need for Web pages on campus was slow in starting, but soon exploded, and we could not keep up. So, I starting teaching classes available for free to anyone on campus. I taught “An Introduction to the Internet,” “Photoshop,” a few other graphics tools and a Web development tool as half-day courses at the TMC Library.
In 2007, I was promoted to Manager, Organizational Learning and Technology Resources and was building a team of people to help create online class content. I would meet with faculty and listen to them describe graphics. I would try to draw their vision and, once it was correct, would turn it over to my staff of graphics developers to turn my sketches to real artwork. This made our classes copyright correct, no copyright violations. With my team, Cynthia Reyna, Richard Tourtelot, Xak Daffin, Sara Smith, Marc McDonald, Radhika Krishnan and others, we developed online graphics as well as database-driven classes and helped to rewrite class content. We set high standards and were kept very busy. I’m grateful for the guidance from Rick Miller and Dr. George Stancel on prioritizing work, and to my co-managers, Barry Ribbeck, Phil Mitchell, and Mark Jones for programming guidance. OAC really worked as a team, and I was very appreciative.
By 2016, I was promoted to senior manager, and added operations to my position’s responsibilities. I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to take ideas and turn it into beautiful images and online classes. It really is my “jam!”
In 2020, my team was dissolved, due to COVID cut backs in IT. A month later, I found a new home as a senior program manager in the Medical School in the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging (aka Radiology). My supervisors, Dr. Susan John and Cathy Doughty, helped me to feel at home again at UT, and they are just absolutely super to work with and for. I love working for Dr. John because she is a supporting, listening supervisor. I’m so glad that I found my way to Radiology. The faculty here are fabulous, inclusive, brilliant people/clinicians and researchers. They show me, every day, how every position in this department is all about patients. The staff here is fabulous and always works as one big team.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Oh, it’s too difficult to choose one thing. … the first WWW pages on campus. … the first WWW publication. … the opportunities to teach faculty, staff, and guests. … that time when I figured out how to use Shibboleth to connect our faculty to Child Protective Services staff, which made the platform for FACN work. … working our way through a system and then having to share it with the Library of Congress (that was an interesting phone call). … figuring out how to save tons of time and University funds by putting out SACS Reaccreditation documents on Xfiles (a system we already had on campus) and being part of the team that reviewed and support that reaccreditation. … being privileged to lead the University Classified Staff Council as Council Chair or Committee Chair several times. The privilege to work closely with Dr. Jack Byrne, President Low, President Willerson, Dr. Max Buja, Mike Tramonte, Kevin Dillon, Safety Bob, and Dr. Colasurdo. This has been an awesome 33+ years, and I am so very grateful for all of them.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
People, diversity, teaching! The people with whom I get to work and play every one of the 33 years here. My current supervisor, Dr. Susan John, gets my humor. My co-workers are kind, caring, and share. I stayed because I love this place. I love the work we do together.
My own education was focused on teaching how to teach, and I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do that. Anyone who knows me knows my focus is on education and helping to move others forward. My team in OAC took on all of the projects that others said “could not be done” and yet we somehow made them work by thinking outside of the box.
Why have you stayed?
Why would I leave!
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
I love to travel and have been to 29 U.S. states and countries 11 countries so far. I spend time with my husband, Jeff, my daughter, Jenet and her husband, Brandon. I try to get time with my stepchildren and their spouses, Doug, Stephanie, Kelly and Josh, and my 9 grandchildren: Gavin, Adalyn, Taryn, Elliott, Thomas, Coralyn, Simon, Aelin and Theo. I draw, paint, flip houses with my husband. It’s a wonderful life!