We’re not just Slack-ing Off

Three years ago, the SIGUCCS Board created a new SIGUCCS Slack workspace to facilitate communications among SIGUCCS colleagues.

Since that time, our SIGUCCS Slack domain(siguccs.slack.com) has grown to 17 public channels and 257 members. Those numbers sound pretty impressive, but we are even more impressed that there are nearly 50 active members each week!

 Our most active channels include:

  • #general – overall, open conversation
  • #conference – information about SIGUCCS 2019 in New Orleans
  • #weeklychallenge – a new challenge is posted each Wednesday
  • #productivity – a channel created to share your tips, tricks and tools for increasing your productivity
  • #book-club – a location to talk about the books we are reading together (https://siguccs.hosting.acm.org/wp/?p=892)

To join Slack, visit the SlackBot Invitation page hosted on our website. See you there!

Let’s Read Together

Do your New Year’s goals include personal professional development or a resolution to read more? Is there a stack of great books nearby that you’ve been meaning to read? Did you make a list of book(s) to investigate that you heard about at the last SIGUCCS conference? Are you nervous about reaching your Goodreads reading challenge?

Us too! Let’s work together to make it happen with SIGUCCS.

Continue reading Let’s Read Together

Meet Tierney Jackson and Jennifer Ott

TOPdesk was looking for a great conference to reach the education sector and decided to showcase their product at the 2018 SIGUCCS annual conference. They wanted to do a presentation, but knew that attendees want to hear from their peers, not from the vendor. So they asked Tierney Jackson and Jennifer Ott from Rhodes College, who were actively involved in their schools implementation of TOPdesk, to present instead. Their story was one that TOPdesk felt was more relatable to the SIGUCCS conference attendees than a sales pitch would have been. This presentation by one of their partner schools was one that could share practical use cases and benefits and hopefully help the audience find a solution to a problem that they were facing in their own workplace.

Tierney Jackson and Jennifer Ott

Tierney and Jennifer had never heard of SIGUCCS when TOPdesk approached them about doing a presentation at the 2018 conference. They agreed to present and were originally just looking forward to a trip to Orlando and thinking that they were doing the vendor a favor.

However, when they began looking at the conference website and conference program they got excited. They had no idea what to expect from the conference but were interested in many of the presentations. They also did not anticipate that upon arrival at the conference that they would find a great group of people that they could reference in the future.

Jennifer remarked that one of her biggest takeaways from the conference is that she came away with many examples of how other colleges and universities are improving customer service and training at their help desks. The conference provided a balance of different types and sizes of schools and everyone was open to sharing information about how they worked. 

Tierney, who is a database administrator, had heard of ACM, but was surprised to find that there was a SIG for US, people that work in IT in higher education. She commented that this is a crazy supportive group. Both Jennifer and Tierney remarked that they had so much fun learning at the conference that they almost forgot that this was work-related.

They came away with lots of fresh ideas and were impressed that so much of the conference content was relevant. There were too many session to choose from and lots of interesting people with interesting things to share. The networking opportunity was exceptional.

Lastly, they wanted to recognize the amazing dedication of the volunteers for SIGUCCS. Putting such a great conference together takes a lot of work and their experience was seamless.

Do you have a vendor that you work with that you think would benefit from exhibiting and presenting at SIGUCCS? Talk to them about becoming an exhibitor with presentation benefits. You too could present on behalf of a vendor. For more information about becoming an Exhibitor, see https://siguccs.hosting.acm.org/wp/?page_id=615

Meet Patricia Carpenter – SIGUCCS Grant Winner

A year or so ago, Patricia was attending another conference and feeling like the content was just not right for her. Someone at that conference suggested that she look at the SIGUCCS conference. While reviewing the web site, she found the content to be the types of sessions that she would be interested in and she also found out about the grant program and decided to apply the following year. As luck would have it she was selected as one of the 2018 grant award winners.

Patricia Carpenter

Patricia was very interested in attending both the help desk sessions and the management track sessions as she had recently been promoted from a help desk analyst to manager. In the past, at other conferences, she had often struggled to decide what session would offer her any ideas, but at SIGUCCS she found it difficult to choose which session to attend. The topics offered were really related to her new role and made her very excited to attend.

Arriving at the conference, Patricia was amazed at the personal affect offered by the conference. Everyone was welcoming and helpful and she found it to be a very friendly community – different from other conferences she had attended in the past. As a member of a small 6-college consortium she also found it helpful to “get out of the bubble” and learn about what others do in their schools.

Overall the SIGUCCS conference was a great experience. Patricia really enjoyed how the sessions connected to the message from one of the keynote speakers who talked about the need for soft skills versus technical skills. So many of the sessions reinforced this message across a range of topics.

Patricia probably would not have been able to attend the SIGUCCS conference in 2018 if not for the grant program and wants all to know that the application process was very easy. If you are new to SIGUCCS, it is worth taking the risk and applying!

The grant program for 2019 will open in the summer. Share the SIGUCCS experience with someone new and encourage them to apply! See http://siguccs.hosting.acm.org/wp/?page_id=410

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 slido.com 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