Last week I got to take part in one of my favorite professional development experiences, the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference, which took place in Philadelphia. This conference “hosts professionals and technology providers from around the world to enable you to network, share ideas, and discover solutions to today’s challenges.” This year’s conference brought together 8,000 higher education professionals from 43 different countries.

If you haven’t heard of EDUCAUSE, or had an opportunity to get involved, I would really encourage you to do so. In addition to conferences (national and regional), EDUCAUSE is a great resource for staying up to date on higher education IT trends and resources (see image). They are also a wealth of information when it comes to developing your career. EDUCAUSE has something for everyone no matter if you’re interested in learning more about our industry as a whole, or just a specific facet.

While I attended many great sessions, I wanted to share a few of them and some additional resources:

Michael Cato (CIO @ Vassar College) gave a great talk entitled “Pursuing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Strategic Advantage.” In his talk, he referenced The Diversity Bonus by Scott E. Page which just may become the next US reading series book.

Katherine Milkman (Assoc. Prof. at Univ of Penn) gave a tremendous keynote on “Decision Biases: Improving the Quality of our Everyday Decisions.” You can see more of her work here:

Liv Gjestvang (Assoc VP of Acad Tech at Ohio State), this year’s Rising Star Award winner, shared some tremendous insights on “Designing Workplaces That Matter.” You can read more about her and her background here (scroll to bottom).

As you look to learn more about IT in higher education, or what professional development resources are out there, I hope that you consider EDUCAUSE. Whether it’s reading their monthly publication (EDUCAUSE Review), joining an email discussion group, or participating in the other opportunities I’ve mentioned, know that it will be a valuable use of your time. EDUCAUSE has a way of opening doors to opportunities both in your thinking and in your career.

If you’d be interested in learning more, or getting involved in EDUCAUSE, please let me know. I’d be happy to connect you to the right resources and people.


contributed by Brandon Bernier, Director of User Services

The Tech Store’s Next Leader

This summer I’ve had the pleasure of stepping into the role of interim Assistant Director of the Tech Store. Bill Zimmerman’s move to AD of the InfoLabs and Edward Hoover’s move to AD of Departmental Support opened the door to this terrific experience, one that I’ve learned a lot from. I want to share some of my observations with all of you.

We have a terrific team!

We have some of the best, most hardworking staff members out there. Frankly, they don’t get enough credit for what they do. And they’re not a group of individuals working in silos. These team members collaborate, communicate, and work across group lines to ensure that we have a high-performing, smooth-running operation. I’ve watched them through the SOAR rush, on inventory night, etc., and in every experience I’ve walked away impressed by their effort and dedication.

Ability to adapt

Many of you know that the Tech Store has experienced significant changes over the past year. There’s no doubt that this puts stress on a team and its operations, but at the same time, change can be good and can help position an organization to excel. Everyone in the Tech Store and Product Management has had a hand in making the Tech Store better for the future. We’ve nearly completed another successful SOAR season, and we’ve made great strides in other customer segments. The continued success of the Tech Store depends on its readiness to adapt and change as future conditions require.

Customer Service Focused

The last observation I’ll share is how impressed I’ve been with how we interact with our customers on a daily basis. Our team continually goes above and beyond to ensure our customers have an exceptional experience in the store. From new students and parents to departmental customers, I consistently see people happy with our services and the way we make our customers a priority.

As we search for the next leader for our Tech Store operations (consulting, logistics, repair, and walk-in support), it will be important to find someone who understands the observations I’ve shared above and is dedicated to collaboratively building a vision for the future while working closely with our Product Management team. We know the phrase that says “what got us here won’t get us there,” and that certainly applies to our next Tech Store Assistant Director.

If you know anyone with these skillsets (yourself included!) please encourage them to apply by August 25th at:


contributed by Brandon Bernier, Director of User Services

Plan Your Professional Development

For the last few years, our department has engaged in an annual Professional Development Plan to help our staff grow in their roles and careers. A key part of the process is to help facilitate professional development and career growth conversations between staff and supervisors.

Recently, User Services’ approach to this was featured by EDUCAUSE. You can read more about it here:

As we get closer to working on this year’s PDP process (more to come soon), my sincere hope is that you’ll spend some time reflecting on where you want to grow, whether it be in your current position or to a new position. We work at a world-renowned institution of higher education, and it’s important that we embrace our learning mission and look to continually develop our skillsets for the future.


contributed by Brandon Bernier, Director of User Services

Climate Survey

At our March all-staff lunch, we welcomed Chad Shorter of Academic Technology to talk about DoIT’s 2016 Climate Survey. Chad helped us to understand how User Services compared to the rest of DoIT, how the 2016 survey responses compared to 2015, and gave an overview of the current User Services climate. You can find a copy of Chad’s report here.

Team climates always evolve, and our team is no exception. As a result of the 2015 Survey, we created initiatives aimed at the following focus areas:

  • Recognition
  • Employee input
  • Advancement Opportunities

You can find specific initiatives here.

The changes brought about by those initiatives showed up in this year’s climate survey — you thought we made some good progress in those areas and that the health of the User Services climate is good. However, that’s not to say our work is done.

In some areas we still have a ways to go, particularly as it relates to advancement opportunities. One initiative we’re launching to help with that is the IT Track and Snack, which will be a pilot series featuring hiring managers from other DoIT departments. They will be talking about their areas, positions they hire for, and the skillsets they’re looking for in new hires. We encourage you to attend — the first one is on Wednesday, 4/26 from 1pm to 2pm and will feature Tamara Walker (Productivity & Collaborative Solutions Manager) and Ty Letto (Middleware Manager).

Another important part of our climate in User Services is our commitment to diversity and inclusion. While we’ve had many recent initiatives aimed at this, I want to share with you the personal inclusivity statements that our Extended Leadership Team members have written and committed to. These statements describe our departmental leaders’ intentions and are an indication of the actions we’ll be taking in coming months to ensure that we at least maintain and preferably increase inclusivity in our work environment. I’ve also asked each of these leaders to talk more about their statements at your upcoming group meetings.

I want to thank you all for your participation in this past year’s survey. User Services had one of the highest response rates in the division. Also, please know that if there are any ideas, initiatives, or perspectives you’d like to share related to these areas, I would be very interested in hearing them.

Keep up the great work team!


contributed by Brandon Bernier, Director of User Services

Campus Computing Survey

Each year, our partners in DoIT Academic Technology team up with DoIT Communications to produce the UW-Madison Campus Computing Survey.  awareness-fwThe survey is a good way to get insights into how our students, faculty and staff think about and use technology on our campus.  This year, our department partnered with one of the lead evaluators, Chad Shorter, to do a deep dive into our customers and services.

The results, which can be found here, provide good data and trends that show how the recent work we’ve been doing is paying off.  Additionally, the data helps to inform services for the future, such as how we will provide support for the increasing number of cloud services.  A few other key trends that the report highlights are:

  • The UW-Madison community utilizes our Help Desk at a much higher rate (42%) than the national average (22%).usage-fw
  • Faculty and Staff are almost 6 times more likely than students to use campus IT support.
  • 79% of Help Desk users also use at least one form of self-help.
  • Awareness of our department’s services has increased over the past year.
  • The campus community is very satisfied with our services!

As we evolve our services, it’s important for us to track and align with our customers’ needs.  We need to ensure we are providing customers with the services that will help support them in their teaching and learning, research, and outreach goals.  The campus computing survey is one of the many opportunities we have to ensure we are doing just that.


contributed by Brandon Bernier, Director of User Services

Positioning US for Success

This past month I had the opportunity to take part in all the group-level staff meetings across User Services. My message centered around how we’ve engaged our department to create our next strategic plan as well as positioned our departmental committees/teams for success in this next year. This is an overview document I handed out that gives brief descriptions of those groups.

Additionally, you will find a document highlighting team members from across our department who will be participating on those teams. As you’ll see, we continue to follow through on our commitment to have cross-functional teams that incorporate many diverse perspectives.

This next year promises to be one of both opportunity and excitement for User Services. I’m proud that our team has been, and continues to be, very engaged in the future of our department.


contributed by Brandon Bernier, Director of User Services

Committees and Teams

The best organizations take the time annually to re-evaluate their future direction, priorities, and the various areas where team members are involved. This past summer, the Extended Leadership Team (Leadership Team, supervisors, and team leads) evaluated our departmental committees and teams to make sure they were optimally structured and aligned with our goals. Here are our existing (2015-2016) committees and teams:

  • All-Staff Planning Team
  • Newsletter Committee
  • Social Committee
  • Student Internship Team
  • Student Leadership Council
  • Student Training Team
  • Women in User Services

All of those groups were important to us as they helped advance important initiatives in addition to providing professional development for our staff members.

Over the past year, three new groups were proposed by our Extended Leadership Team. An important goal in our evaluation was to ensure that we had the capacity to take on any new initiatives before implementing them.

Proposed Committees and Teams:

Great Service Group
Internal Communications Team
Space Planning (Phase 3)

After a careful review, and much debate about what is best for our customers and staff, we are happy to announce the following Committees and Teams that will be moving forward for 2016-2017:

  • All-Staff Planning (existing team through January 2017 before merging with Internal Comm.)
  • Great Service Group
  • Internal Communications
  • Space Planning Phase 3
    Student Internship Team
  • Student Leadership Council
  • Women in User Services

If you’re interested in reading a more detailed description of these teams, please click here:

2016-2017 Team Descriptions

If you would like to find more information about the process we used, including our goals, timeline, criteria matrix, and final recommendations, you can do so here:

Process Overview
Criteria Matrix
Final Recommendations

You’ll soon receive an email from Jaclyn Zavoral inviting you to volunteer for one of these groups (as well as our upcoming strategic planning initiatives) as a professional development opportunity. We realize that many of you have already registered your interest in such groups through your PDP.  However, there may be team members that didn’t and now that they see these groups, would like to volunteer. This is their opportunity to do so. The volunteer sign-up will be used in combination with the PDP and manager perspectives to select team members.

This next year is a promising one for our department and I’m confident that these committees and teams will help us continue to achieve success.


contributed by Brandon Bernier, Director of User Services