All posts by SIGUCCS Editor

About SIGUCCS Editor

The Special Interest Group on University and College Computing Services (SIGUCCS) is an association of professionals who support and manage the diverse aspects of information technology services at higher education institutions. SIGUCCS is one of 36 special interest groups of ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest educational and scientific computing society. SIGUCCS focuses on issues surrounding the support, delivery, and management of those services, and provides professional development opportunities for its members and the other individuals in the field.

Get Jazzed about SIGUCCS 2019

saxophone player silhouette

It’s not too soon to get jazzed about the 2019 ACM SIGUCCS Annual Conference in New Orleans on November 3-6. The customarily friendly atmosphere of the conference will be enhanced by the warmth of Southern hospitality and the heat of Cajun cuisine. Join with your colleagues from across the country and over the oceans in sharing fruitful approaches to technological challenges in higher education and cautionary tales of projects gone awry. Create or strengthen relationships that you can draw on throughout the year when you need informed advice or a supportive sounding board.

The call for participation in the conference will be published in January, but there are two things to do now:

  1. Let the good talks roll by brainstorming about how you can participate. What experience or insight can you share by making a presentation at the conference? Remember that doing a presentation can be a big boost when seeking institutional support to attend the conference and is a great professional development opportunity.
  2. Spread the word. Tell your colleagues who are unfamiliar with SIGUCCS (including those at other institutions) to get onto the SIGUCCS mailing listor connected to us via social media so they’ll receive news of the conference. There are also fliers and cards available for printing and sharing from our Share SIGUCCS page.
SIGUCCS 2019 Logo

Then join us in New Orleans next November to enjoy the conference and the city from ASCII to zydeco.

SIGUCCS 2018 Conference Takeaway – What Cats can teach us about Excellent Customer Service

What Cats can teach us about Excellent Customer Service

Presented by: Miranda Carney-Morris, Julio Appling, and Elizabeth Young (Lewis and Clark College)

An interactive workshop where various archetypes of cats were explained and how they related to typical support user types. A participant activity followed in which attendees creatively devised solutions to herd (and best support) these types of cats/customers.

Cats and Customer Service Panelists

Read the paper in the ACM Digital Library

Review the slides in Sched 


Customer types are diverse as cat breeds. Providing flexible and effective support is an art! Meow, meow, meow!

SIGUCCS 2018 Conference Takeaway – A Career in Organized Anarchy

A Career in Organized Anarchy: Building Interpersonal Relationships in Higher Education

Presented by: Matthew House (Washington University in St Louis)

Understanding the university as an organization can help you build relationships with others on your campus. Relationships can help foster trust and engagement, gain commitment and backing, and help you get timely and accurate information.

There are four different models of higher education institution; knowing the type of institution that you work at can help you build those relationships. The four models are: collegial, bureaucratic, political, and anarchical. Also, know your institution’s Carnegie classification. This can help you navigate the rough waters of relationship building.

Often a university, especially one that is a research intensive, like Washington University at St Louis, is considered an organized anarchy. It is a loosely coupled system where links between cause and effect are not clear. The institution is made up of many semi-autonomous units.

Strategic relationship building relies on four factors; organizational awareness, interpersonal awareness, relationship building and choices based on goals.

Matthew left us with this advice for building strong relationships across campus:

  • Be curious  – learn something new from others
  • Be genuine – take interest in what others are doing and understand the part they play and value they add
  • Be transparent – having motives and an agenda is okay
  • Spend time, listen and retain information – both personal and professional
  • Maintain your integrity
  • Be nice

Read the paper on the ACM Digital Library

Review the slides on Sched


Understanding your organization can go a long way toward success with a career in higher education. It can help you understand how (and why) decisions are made. – Lisa Brown

SIGUCCS 2018 Conference Takeaway – Investing in your Training Portfolio: diversifying Training Methods

Investing in your Training Portfolio: diversifying Training Methods

Presented by: Winnie Ling Luper, William Olsen (Rutgers University))

Winnie Ling LuperIn this presentation, Winnie and William covered their entire student training program in depth and talked about how they used for the presentation. This session covered their student evaluation, feedback and improvement process.

Student training included some cool gamification ideas. Student leaders were tasked with coming up with gaming themes for training. Some examples include Consultant Ninja Warrior, Who wants to be a Consultant, and The ARC Amazing Race. Training also includes a number of hands-on activities, like building a computer and raspberry pi. They seem to have a great training program with a very small teacher to student ratio (no more than 7 students per class).

This session also covered their consultant review process. Each student supervisor has 7 consultants.

Read the paper on the ACM Digital Library

Review the slides on Sched


Exciting perspective on training student employees with many examples that could be used by anyone even smaller schools. – Tim Foley

SIGUCCS 2018 Conference Takeaway – Navigating your Path to Leadership

Navigating your Path to Leadership

Presented by: David Weil (Ithaca College), Beth Rugg (University of North Carolina, Charlotte), Terry Ruger (Ithaca College)

What a phenomenal group of presenters who shared with us how to prepare for advancing up the career ladder. They reminded us that advancing up that ladder is about people and vision and less about technology. Mid-level management is not about being better at technology.

2018 conference logoFind out what your leadership style is and embrace it. Do not try to be something that you are not. As you move up the ladder make sure that you are making a good decision for yourself and for the organization.

If you are looking to move up from technical into a management position, look for opportunities to demonstrate leadership outside of your job. Activity and participation in university committees and volunteer organizations count. Also, make sure that you are networking both inside and outside your current organization.

Keep your resume current, even if you are not looking for a position now. Reviewing your resume allows you to recognize your accomplishments.

If you are looking at internal positions, take it just as seriously as if you were an external candidate. Do your homework and leverage what you already know about the organization. But, do not just assume that people on the interview committee know your background – tell your story no matter who is interviewing you!


Your leadership style is about dialogue with people. Tell your story, it is what institutions want to hear when hiring for executive positions. Decide where you want to go and develop a plan to get there. It is much easier than career drifting. Put yourself out there, take risks, and stand out. – Tom Wilk

One of my main takeaways from this presentation was that you are always interviewing for a job. Every encounter or interaction is part of your “interview”. – Lisa Brown


SIGUCCS 2018 Conference Takeaway – Anatomy of a Career Coaching Session

Anatomy of a Career Coaching Session

Presented by: Diana Sadlouskos (Sadlouskos Consulting)

Diane Anatomy of a Career Coaching SessionDiana Sadlouskos, a career coach, provided us an inside look at a career coaching session by showcasing her process with a SIGUCCS attendee. Some of her advice included:

  • Identify the job(s) that you are interested in
  • Update your application materials to apply specifically to that job
    • Cover letter
    • Resume
  • Prepare for interviews
    • Create an interview prep document/matrix
    • Develop a career notebook
    • Create your 2-3 minute introduction
  • Plan for your next steps

Review the slides on Sched


Your resume should be built upon the themes of the job for which you are applying. Highlight the skills that are being requested in that new position. Be sure that your resume and cover letter tell your story and tell it well. – Lisa Brown

What a fantastic opportunity to see what happens in career coaching sessions. I learned that each time you apply for a job, your application materials must be recreated to apply toward the credentials sought. – Laurie Fox

SIGUCCS 2018 Conference Takeaway – The “I” in Team

The “I” in Team: How developing individual strength builds a great team

Presented by: Tom Wilk (Carnegie Mellon University)

Tom WilkManagers face three types of employees on their teams: struggler, “average Joe”, and rock star. Each type requires a different management strategy. Managers need to set SMART goals and document progress as part of performance management (don’t just tell them to do better). Tom uses 1-1 meetings with agendas, performance appraisals, coaching, shared documents, and other tools to assist him in building a team.

We discussed special needs of each of the three types of employees. For example, the struggler can be struggling for one of three reasons; lack of skill, lack of will, or personal issues. You need to identify which one and focus on how to address it specifically. Another example is to not let your rockstar get burned out and do not just give them the work that your strugglers are not getting done. Pay special attention to your “average Joe” as he/she can rise to the top if given a new or special project.

Tom left us with three key factors to build a great team: Trust, Clarity, and Transparency.

Read the paper on the ACM Digital Library

Review the slides on Sched


Tom’s Trello screen with the following categories: inbox, employee’s items, projects, career development, and his own items – with cards under each for items to discuss during 1-1 sessions with his staff. He creates a similar item for each employee to keep track of things throughout the year for performance appraisals. – Kathy Fletcher

See an example at : or

SIGUCCS 2018 Conference Takeaway – Best Practices for Small Group Communications

Best Practices for Small Groups Communication and Efficiency

Presented by: Ella Tschopik, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Ella TschopikElla gave us some great ways to run meetings and tied in a few workshop-like activities in this presentation. Her presentation immediately followed the opening keynote where we were reminded that the most important skills that a student can learn in college are the soft skills, like communication. Ella’s presentation was a great way to start the conference!

As part of this presentation we learned some best practices for successful meetings, including identifying individual behaviors during group communication. One of the group activities was about observing these in action. We were challenged with answering questions that were clearly opinion answers. It was great to see how we were able to apply some of the tools Ella spoke about during the presentation.

Group dynamics were also discussed and the stages of group development – forming, storming, norming, and performing. The idea that if you have a new project, be sure to give group members time to get to know each other and get to that performing stage.


One of my main takeaways from this presentation is to be thoughtful about meetings. Don’t have a meeting just because it is on the calendar, make sure that there is a purpose and an agenda. Share the agenda ahead of time. And finally focus meetings on things that require in-person participation. – Lisa Brown

Good meetings have: decisions, not updates, action items, an agenda, and topics that we have to come together to talk about . – Laurie Fox


SIGUCCS 2019 Conference Committee Introductions – Melissa Bauer

This article is part of a series introducing the SIGUCS 2019 Conference Core Committee. Each Committee member submitted answers to questions created by the SIGUCCS Marketing Committee.

Melissa BauerMelissa is the Conference Treasurer – our recent habit has been to encourage treasurers to stay in their role for two years. If you’d like to read more details about Melissa, check out her previous answers at SIGUCCS 2018 Conference Committee Introductions – Melissa Bauer

How many SIGUCCS conferences have you attended?

SIGUCCS 2019 New Orleans … what is your favorite french food?
I love champagne, croissants, macarons, French fries, café au lait, and the list goes on.

SIGUCCS 2019 Logo

SIGUCCS 2019 Conference Committee Introductions – Keith McIntosh

This article is part of a series introducing the SIGUCS 2019 Conference Core Committee. Each Committee member submitted answers to questions created by the SIGUCCS Marketing Committee.

How many SIGUCCS conferences have you attended?

Which previous SIGUCCS conference was your favorite, and why?
My first one, in 2014, was my favorite because it was new. I enjoyed meeting folks and experiencing the camaraderie of such a tight knit community. I had heard so much about SIGUCCS through a colleagues so I was happy to finally get to attend.

How did you get involved as a volunteer in SIGUCCS?
I got involved in SIGUCCS initially through the strong encouragement from Cindy Dooling who I worked with at Pima Community College. I was contacted by Bob Haring-Smith to participate on the 2019 Conference Core Committee.

What’s an accomplishment that you are especially proud of?
I am especially proud to see the positive impact I may have had on someone’s life and career. To me this is what life is all about…helping others when and where possible. So if something I spoke about, wrote about, or helped someone directly enhanced or enabled someone to achieve more in their life, this makes me proud.

SIGUCCS 2019 LogoYou could always stop and talk to me about…
Probably just about anything because I love speaking with people especially about topics that interest them. I usually have something I can say about the topic and if I don’t, then it is a learning opportunity for me. These are topics that I am passionate about on a personal level are: (1) my family, (2) diversity, equity, and inclusion or DEI, (3) golf, and (4) movies.

What do you do for fun?
Golf, trivia, and going to the movies. I also love to dance, but I don’t do it as much anymore.

SIGUCCS 2019 New Orleans … what is your favorite French food?
Probably Crepes or perhaps Coq au vin.