January 20, 2021
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I was hired by Bassel Choucair, associate vice president of Information Technology User Experience and Support, and Lynne Fife, UTHealth retiree, in January 1999 as the Medical School document imaging specialist. The first projects of moving our university to a paperless environment included extensive work with the admissions process. The printing of applicant information from UT System and gathering Medical School documents involved staff delivering mounds of paper to our admission committee members for review. Along with a small group from UTHealth and UT System, we were able to successfully transform the admissions process into a completely online experience. Other projects included management of the student Scantron exams and working with Bill Weems, UTHealth retiree, as one of the first approvers for e-mail digital certificates across UTHealth and MD Anderson.
Tell me about your work history here.
Within a few years of being hired, a reorganization at UTHealth led me to a position in Conference Operations. Under the leadership of Nancy McNiel, senior associate dean for Administrative Affairs at the Medical School, and Claire Brunson, executive director, Management Services – Medical School, I was given the opportunity to organize and upgrade the department’s use of paper scheduling calendars, VHS tapes, wired mics, etc., while overseeing the replacement of the classroom and lecture hall equipment, bringing us the innovative interactive/audiovisual environment that we have today. I worked very closely with Steve Fath, director of Interactive Video Services, and his team throughout the years. His shared knowledge of interactive video was and is still priceless for our team. My background working in management of loan departments and check imaging processing made it a natural progression for me to move Conference Operations and many medical school departments from a paper scheduling process to digital calendars.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
I have many proud moments over my 22 years with McGovern Medical School. I am proud of my ability to work under the most extreme circumstances. I was part of the initial MSIT assessment crew after Tropical Storm Allison. My close relationships with co-workers in the Center for Laboratory Animal Medicine and Care made these efforts both trying, emotionally challenging and at the same time we were very proud of the work we did following such devastation. After several more storms throughout the years, the work that I have accomplished by creating a digital environment for our team helped us to continue our day-to-day activities during these catastrophic events.
I think I am most proud of the team I have built as a senior manager, IV/AV and Conference Services. Each of my team members are outstanding employees and the work they are able to accomplish each day simply amazes me. No matter how many last-minute assists are requested, or types of requests received, they are on top of their game and our customers are always left satisfied with the support they receive. Our team works extremely hard and along with MSIT and Office of Communications staff, together we keep McGovern Medical School’s publicly used spaces current with interactive and audiovisual options to use for teaching, course scheduling, research meetings and staff events, plus more. Our team was prepared and ready to manage the challenges brought on by COVID-19. We were able to prepare our buildings for social distancing, provide signage to give guidance, and set up an overwhelming jump in the number of interactive video meetings held by staff, faculty, and student lectures.
Another accomplishment that I am very proud of is successfully managing an enterprise cloud application used by UTHealth for academic and event resource scheduling. Along with members from MMS, CSON, SPH and Auxiliary Enterprises, we successfully provide resource scheduling for 3,000+ users. We are currently working with digital signage projects at various locations at UTHealth.
I have always held myself as a strong advocate for state employees. My involvement with the MMS Employee Relations Committee throughout the years, including serving as President, my time serving as a member on the University Classified Staff Council, and working on the UT System Employee Advisory Council gave me the opportunity to work with others from various departments at MMS, representatives from all of UTHealth’s institutions, and UT System institutions.
As a 15-year breast cancer survivor, I underwent treatment/surgeries back in 2005 with Dr. Joan Bull, Dr. Daniel Freet, and Dr. Emily Robinson (my Dream-Team). I was later interviewed several times as part of the ongoing interest of studies in the use of nanotechnology and rapid detection using saliva swabs that took place at School of Dentistry and McGovern Medical School. I was honored to be cared for, and included even just for a moment, with such great minds as Dr. Bull, Dr. Freet, and Dr. Robinson.
How has the university changed since you first joined?
I have witnessed so much growth since 1999. Some changes I still chuckle at when I remember them. Paper calendars with the use of white out liquid to make schedule changes, VHS players with TV combination on push carts, slide carousels with slide projectors, portable X-ray view boxes, and so many other items provided by our department for teaching, staff events and research meetings. I remember Dr. Duke being one of the last ones to hold onto his teaching slides. I think we finally gave him a slide projector to keep. He is one of many that I miss seeing in the hallways of McGovern Medical School. Always a kind word to share.
Why have you stayed?
UTHealth’s diverse environment; the family atmosphere among the faculty, students, and staff; the support and friendships of my co-workers; the opportunities to embrace personal growth; the challenging projects with high intensity and hard work consistently providing opportunities for achievements; and, a constant sense of being a small part of amazing research. I have enjoyed watching students accomplish their goal of becoming doctors year after year knowing that in a very, very small way, I played a role in helping them accomplish their success.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
In 2020, it is all about house projects. That will continue in 2021, for sure. I spend as much time as I can with my son and stepson’s families. Along with their wives, they are my best friends and have blessed me with six grandchildren to love and adore. My four youngest, ‘the littles,’ live next door to me and keep me busy along with my four dogs. A perfect day is sitting on my porch photographing birds. Bird and other wildlife photography are my favorite. I enjoy working with photos and videos. I love going to the beach or spending time at any lake. Road trip? Absolutely. I really enjoying traveling to see family and friends. I am very much looking forward to traveling again once it’s safe for me to do so.