Beyond the Call: Supporting IT as campus moved to remote

Editor’s note: Beyond the Call is a new section in Around the O Workplace that highlights the exceptional work of UO employees during COVID-19. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.

Gary Sullivan
Director of User Support Services

How long have you worked at the UO?

Ten years as of January 2020. I started in September of 2019 as the director of User Support Services.

Tell us about your work:

In this new role, I am building a new organization that will handle the bulk of tech support for the majority of campus. We are taking many of the core and common services that many of us need help with techwise and we are centralizing all of that as part of the Transform IT program. It runs the gamut from “I need help with wireless” to “I need help downloading software for a class” to computer labs to hardware issues to purchasing and all that good stuff.

What does your workday look like during COVID-19?

Up until the first week of March, we were in full Transform IT mode. We were working on a project called the User Support Services Implementation Project. We had an offsite retreat and literally within a week COVID hit and we dropped all of that and it was all hands on deck as far as trying to figure out how to handle support, how to stand up remote teaching and how to support people working remotely. It’s been a lot of meetings and handling whatever is required to make sure we get through this.

In the last week or two all of that has slowed down and now we’re getting back to what we were doing. Right now, I spend probably four out of five days working remote in my home office. I’m on a lot of Zoom and (Microsoft) Teams calls. Usually, about one day a week I go into the office to either help out the staff who do go into the office or to touch base and make sure everything is looking good.

What is keeping you motivated during this challenging time?

I’ve been looking for silver linings in all of this anywhere I can because it’s the kind of person I am and I think we all need something positive to grab onto. I think (COVID-19) has really shown us we can all work together. That’s one thing I’ve really been impressed with and enjoyed. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and collaboration going on right now. I do hope that continues.

One motivation is to just get back to somewhat of a new normal. And I’m not just talking about work, I’m talking about life. Even though this will sound strange, sometimes it feels like things are normal, but then I realize I haven’t left the house in four or five days.

Gary Sullivan is a part of Information Services and has worked on several key projects in the UO’s response to COVID-19.

Do you know someone who has gone beyond the call? Nominate a UO employee.