Coming Soon! The US Newsletter Gets A New Look and Feel


march14Dear Readers:

The US Newsletter team is looking forward to the March 14th issue as it premieres a whole new look and feel! The Newsletter will move to a service provided by the DoIT WiscWeb WordPress which employs the UW Theme.

The WiscWeb team has singled out a number of Live Sites on their web site. Over the next month, we invite you to peruse these sites. Let us know if you see any cool features you’d like to see employed in the US Newsletter.

New USN Site Features Include

An Events Calendar
Content Submission via Web Form
A Place to Share Your Favorite Photographs

As always, we will look to you for input on the flow of the new site and invite you to contribute content of any kind.


Laughing, Learning and Volunteering: 2017 EYH STEM Conference for Middle School Girls

The Big Day


Looking under the hood.

The 2017 Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) STEM Conference was a total success! Saturday, November 4 was a very special day for 450 middle school girls from all over Wisconsin. Conference attendees selected three STEM Career Areas of interest. This year, attendees were also able to experience some of the cool happenings at the Wisconsin Science Festival held in the Discovery Center. Upon arrival, attendees were divided into groups of 10-11 girls. Each small group was assigned two volunteer Group Leaders (who, traditionally, are female undergraduates studying in a STEM field). Group Leaders spend the entire conference day with their group while sharing personal experiences and goals in their own STEM education and career endeavors.

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 3.13.57 PM

Groups 18 is looking for the bus to Career Sessions at Veteran’s Hospital Labs

Each group attended three fifty-minute Career Sessions. Career Sessions are presented by volunteers (e.g. women in STEM fields), some of whose workplaces are off of the UW Campus (like Edgewood College, Strand Associates and Filament Games, to name a few). Conference attendees were bused to and from the off-site presentations. Volunteer Bus Monitors made sure things went smoothly (e.g. made sure all groups arrived at their presentations on time and that any belongings left on the bus found their owner, etc.).

EYH Volunteers from DoIT User Services


The weight of the average human brain is 1300g-1400g (about 3 pounds!)

A small army of volunteers makes all the EYH moving parts operate smoothly year after year. This year, Teresa Arauco,  who created and maintains the EYH website, also coordinated all the volunteers. Among some of the volunteer positions: morning greeters, registration table help, all day student nurse(s), photographer(s), bus monitors and event set up and tear down.

Veteran EYH Coordinating Staff (e.g. Madison women in various STEM fields who coordinate this event, many since the late 1980s) were especially in awe of a remarkable group of volunteers. Our own Abrianna Barca, who is earning her MBA, expressed an interest in volunteering early on. When she requested the link for the Volunteer Spreadsheet,  it turned out that she requested it for her whole MBA cohort of 8 women, all of whom are work various STEM fields! Veteran EYH Coordinating Staff said that their presence, engaging manner and camaraderie left a really wonderful impression on EYH attendees. Abrianna and her MBA cohort made marked improvements in the efficiency of registration and keeping the girls on task while on the buses and at their various Career Presentations. One among them volunteered as photographer, her images are included in this article.


A very special thanks to the women in this MBA cohort!

Quick Post-Conference Chat with Abrianna

Q1: What did you expect when you signed up to volunteer for 2017 EYH?

AB: I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up to volunteer. That said, it was a great way to give back, have fun, and learn new things!

Q2: What surprised you the most from this experience?

AB: It was so cool to get to attend the sessions out at Madison College (Truax Campus) – I learned a lot about different industries like electrical engineering and geology.

Q3: What would you say to someone who was interested in volunteering for the event or presenting to a group of attendees?

AB: If you are even remotely interested, I would really encourage you to sign up. It is a one day volunteer commitment which makes it easy to help out! It was a lot of fun to talk with the girls, attend the sessions, and volunteer. I was able to sign up with a group of women from my MBA cohort. This meant we were able to give back but also network with one another.
* * *

Check back here if you want to be a part of next year’s super-fun event.


Mass and Weight (Im)possibilities!

Article Photo Credit and a Very Special Thanks to: Jordan Lee

Highlights from the EDUCAUSE Panel Discussion: “Being Male Allies for Advancing Women in IT”

October 18th was a sunny autumn day in Lincoln, Nebraska, perfect weather for the 2017 Women Advance IT Leadership Conference featuring topics on women advancing the future of IT in Higher Education. Among the sessions was a Coffee and Conversation panel discussion: “Being Male Allies for Advancing Women in IT”. Brenda Spychalla co-leads the Women in IT EDUCAUSE group, along with Bernadette Williams-Looper from University of North Carolina – Charlotte.

Discussion Panelists:

  • Jesse La Grew (JL) from UW DoIT User Services Departmental Support
  • Andrea Mascher (AM), University of Iowa,
  • Heath Tuttle (HT), University of Nebraska – Lincoln
  • Wes Juranek (WJ), University of Nebraska Central Administration.

Conf Slide
The first three questions of the panel discussion dove right in to the heart of the matter:

Q1: What does it mean to you to be a male ally/ what do you look for in a male ally?

HT – For me, it is about awareness first and foremost: how I interact with everyone in my department, with women colleagues and how those interactions may be perceived by others.  There has been more interest around this in the past year or two. To me, there is a big difference between an ally versus an advocate. While I do not want to define each role for all, I feel there is definitely a distinction. I want to further the voice of women in IT and be cognizant of this on a daily basis and considering it at all times.

JL – Being a male ally means helping support any individual and taking an active role – which is more than just sitting behind a desk. Self awareness in a huge part of this effort. I start with myself, I work to understand what I am thinking, what I am feeling and how I am being perceived and getting that feedback. If I am not being a good example, I am not helping to forward this effort.

WJ – My awareness began a year ago when I was invited to a Male Ally meeting at the 2016 Women Advance IT Conference. It felt intimidating, I asked myself, “Am I an ally”? It was the beginning of a journey. I was willing to start on journey to promote a more diverse organization in an effort to be a better organization.  Allyship means being engaged, learning about current topics and issues. Use what resources are at my disposal to help our women counterparts.

AM – What I look for in a male ally is for someone willing to take action. When discussing this with my partner, he did not believe there is gender inequality, but after I made him aware, he noticed it at his own place of employment. Work and credit were misapplied to him. No one took action to correct this. He struggled as he asked himself “what should I have done in that moment”? He would like to be more fluid bias interrupter.

LaGrew_EducauseQ2: Can you share an experience that showed you the value in being a male ally?

HT – I can’t pinpoint any specific moment or incident. Now that I am more aware, I’ve noticed people taking credit and giving away credit. I also noticed the (verbal) interrupting cited widely in literature I’ve read. I encourage you to be aware of your own actions: do you interrupt people? do you interrupt women?

JL – I have a 16 year old daughter. I want her to see all of her own possibilities and have a future without facing a barrier she may feels she can’t overcome. I attended a discussion at a Big Ten Leadership Conference that encouraged openess, honesty and open dialog. Unfortunately, attendees were all communicating very, very cautiously. They were all careful with what they were saying, afraid to step on toes. That group put in so much time, energy and effort to build a culture and rapport but it was still so hard to have an honest dialog. We all trusted each other but struggled to talk it out.  The message I got was ‘we are still not comfortable talking about this/ are in an uncomfortable situation’. There is fear around the discussion, and I have felt it myself but I need to embrace it. I need to engage in the conversation that people are thinking and feeling and engage in all the emotion behind it.  I know I am going to screw up:  I need to hear feedback and then do something about it and around it. We need to be willing to learn along the way and acknowledge that we may stumble.

Brenda Spychalla – We need to acknowledge that we are all vulnerable in this conversation and that all are awkward in their first steps when entering this conversation…and that’s okay.

Q3: What are some initial steps individuals and campuses are taking to engage men in becoming allies?

JL – The seeds were planted at a Big Ten Leadership group after having a conversation with other men. We asked each other:

  • How do we get women more invested in IT programs?
  • How can we get something things moving?
  • How can we get men involved?
  • What would it take?
  • Who would be interested?

I was motivated to take some action. I sought out and received some great feedback and perspective from wife. Then, I went to our local Women in IT program coordinator Brenda Spychalla, and learned about this thing called “a Male Ally” and asked myself:

  • What does this look like?
  • How can we build a community and candidly discuss, “What is a Male Ally”?

Since then, we have been reaching out on campus to get support and generate interest. We are hoping early next year to create a space to talk about this.  We have people who are interested in starting this conversation. It wont be a session where you sit in a room an bare your deepest feelings. At this point its a all a grass roots effort where we talk to a few people, they are talking to a few more people. On the UW campus, we have a number of diversity efforts. In User Services we have a community, but I think this challenges us as a larger community.

To see and hear the rest of this Coffee and Conversation, please click here and listen to its entirety .


While there is no standard definition for “Male Ally”, here are a few timely articles to help spark some thought and discussion.

Check back here at the US Newsletter, we will keep you posted on developments for the upcoming UW-WIT event currently in the works.

2017 Diversity Forum Workshop: “Developing Meaningful Conversations Around Microaggressions”

DDEEA Diversity Forum 2017 Nov. 7, 2017. (Photo © Andy Manis)Union South’s Varsity Hall was packed to the brim for the 2017 Diversity Forum. Bright and early on the morning of November 9, the Conference Welcome was presented by UW Madison Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf. Opening ceremonies included a review of  UW Native November events by the  Bear Clan Singers out of Mauston, Wisconsin. The drumming group was led by Mr. Gerald Cleveland, his two grandsons and his great-grandson, all from the Ho Chunk nation. They sang two songs, a “Welcome” song and a “Let us Begin” song.

There were 750 people registered for this event and 80 people on the waitlist. Organizers of the event said that most sessions had every seat filled and had many standing.


The 10:30am Breakout Session navigated some very tricky waters as it implemented a 90 minute, introductory level session around the awareness and management of microaggressions. The goal was for attendees was twofold; 1) to be more comfortable having conversations about microaggressions and 2) to be more likely to address them if they witnessed one.

Workshop attendees were asked to get into groups of 3 or 4 to have facilitator guided discussions. After personal introductions and citing favorite things about their own jobs, participants were presented with:

Workshop participants were gently and thoughtfully led through a series of discussion questions. While each of us has personally witnessed / or experienced microaggressions, this workshop gave detailed examples of microaggressions many may have not experienced based on; religion, class, gender, sexual orientation and/ or disability.Poster

Facilitators then asked each table to share their findings. Participants did their best to be open, vulnerable and candid throughout the small group sessions. Acknowledging that awareness and learning to interrupt bias will be an ongoing process, all tables shared some very useful methods of bringing awareness and interruption to microaggressions:

Paraphrase or repeat back what was said – Restating a comment clarifies it for you and for them.

Ask for more information – This can be a follow-up to paraphrasing. Try to understand why people hold those views thereby inviting dialog.

Express empathy first – Listen for the feeling and energy behind the statement. People may make biased comments when they are feeling frustrated, disappointed, or angry.

Share your own process – Talk about how you used to hold a similar view and the factors leading to change.

Separate intent from impact – Acknowledge that someone may have said something biased or inappropriate without meaning to. Don’t automatically assign negative motives.

Use humor – Sometimes exaggerating the comment or using gentle sarcasm makes the point. However, you need to be sure that it is heard as humor or sarcasm, not a reinforcement of prejudice. This is where tone is particularly important.

Finally, acknowledge that we are all human and subject to making mistakes and subsequently that we are all “works in progress”.

Other resources:


User Services Phase 3 Space Redesign: Update

The User Services Phase 3 Space Redesign team was on hiatus after the proposal from our planning stage was submitted, but we have reconvened and we’re excited to inform you that we’ve received approval from DoIT leadership to move forward! We’ve made some updates to the project’s Central Repository on DoITNet:

US Phase3

Expect to hear from us in the future via meetings, e-mails, surveys, etc. We’ll have a lot more information for you as we hash out details with FP&M. In the meantime, take some time to look around your work area and think about what things you use often and what things are collecting dust. Rearranging our space will provide a great opportunity to get rid of clutter that’s accumulated over the years.

Reach out to us via email if you have any questions! As a reminder, team members/alderpersons are:

  • Abrianna Barca
  • Chris Poser
  • David Schlaefer
  • Karl Weirauch
  • David Peterson
  • Will Crickman
  • Jaclyn Zavoral

contributed by Will Crickman

Meet the Final Candidates for Assistant Director of DoIT Tech Store Operations: Allison Olson

The Position

In August of 2017, the DoIT User Services Search and Screen Committee began the process of filling the vacant position of Assistant Director of DoIT Tech Store Operations.

Retail Locations 3
Full-time Staff 18-20
Student Staff 20-25
Departments to oversee
Retail Sales
Technical Support
Repair Services
UW Missions and Commitments to Support
DoIT Foundational Principles
UW Academic
UW Research
UW Outreach

The last week of September, the search was narrowed to three finalists. Each finalist was assigned his/her own day to spend with User Services Staff and undergo the following final screening activities:

  • Welcome and Tech Store Tour
  • Interview Screen and Search Committee
  • Deliver a Presentation to User Services Staff
  • Lunch with the Leadership Team
  • Tech Store Staff Panel Q & A
  • Interview with Brandon Bernier, User Services Director

Continue reading “Meet the Final Candidates for Assistant Director of DoIT Tech Store Operations: Allison Olson”

2017 Back To School – Volunteer Sign Up By the Numbers

Carillon_tower_autum09_1947We would like to extend a huge thanks to all the time and energy everyone put into making the two week event of 2017 Fall Rush a success!

As a result of feedback submitted by staff all over User Services, a Fall Rush sign-up sheet was created. User Services staff had the opportunity to volunteer hours of time to a specific role to help Fall Rush go smoothly. Each role was defined on the Volunteer spreadsheet, so staff knew exactly what to expect.

This table shows User Services Staff time in hours which were volunteered and categorized by User Services Area.

User Services Area Hours Volunteered by Department
Help Desk 42
Departmental Support 19
User Services Departmental Office 25
Info Labs 6
Product Management 38

Total Hours Volunteered to a Role



The table below gives a description of each role and the required skills for which people volunteered.

The sign up was such a success, we will most likely do this next year! Take a look at each role and mentally try on each one for size.  Happy Fall Semester, everyone!


Role Description Required Skills Hours Volunteered by Role
Help Desk Email Support Folks who help in role will help manage the HD email queue by returning emails for common issues. This will help us keep the queue more manageable during our busiest time of year. None 32
Help Desk Product Liaison This is the first year the HD will also be taking calls/chats/emails for the Tech Store during fall rush. Having a resource will help us ensure we can handle calls in a timely manner Knowledge of in-house & online Tech Store products and general knowledge of its policies and procedures is helpful but not required 23
Tech Store Greeter Greeters welcome customers to the store and help guide them to appropriate resources within the store. This will help make customers feel comfortable in the store and manage the queue Desire to interact with a high number of customers 63
Graduate School Resource Fair This is a fun way to get out on campus, interact with our customers face-to-face, answer any questions they have and listen to what is important to them! Desire to interact with a high number of customers 5
Education Welcome Resource Fair 1
International Student Services Resource Fair 0
BadgerFest 6
Total Volunteered Hours per Role 130

Happy Fall Semester, Everyone!