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.


Northwestern Mutual to Borrow from User Services Model

It’s great to see that well-known corporate business partners are looking to us as a model on how to do business.” – Sean Bossinger

On Wed, Nov 1, User Services hosted Northwestern Mutual (NM) to share best practices in walk-in help desk service & support. NM is a member of the UW E-business Consortium, and through this relationship they heard about the great services that the Help Desk and Tech Store provide to our customers. NM is considering implementing similar walk-in help desk services and wanted to see how User Services has shaped the customer experience.


Three members from Northwestern Mutual’s IT staff made the trip: Jim King (Director), Jeremy Lewandowski (Manager), and Daniel Casey (Experience Lead). They toured the Tech Stores at Dayton and East Campus Mall, as well as the Level 1 Help Desk. They took special note of our use of mounted displays and marketing materials for both internal and external purposes.

They engaged us in conversations covering everything from implementation, daily operations, modes of communication, ticketing, documentation, and the overall customer experience. They’re planning to adopt Cherwell 2018, and were excited to see how we’re using it. They even mentioned wanting to shift to hiring for customer service skills and training for tech skills.

Sean Bossinger, Abrianna Barca, Chris Grosspietsch, Leah Scheide, Bret Vlach, Karl Weirauch, and Patrick Johnson all participated in the conversations with NM. To round out the day, NM generously paid for lunch at Jordan’s Big 10 Pub.

The visit with NM went really well, and by the end of the visit, Jim, Jeremy, and Dan were extending an invitation to us to come and visit their operations after they’ve implemented their walk-in help desk solution in the spring.

“We will be [following up with] Northwestern Mutual to set up a time for us to visit with them at their new facilities in downtown Milwaukee.” – Sean Bossinger

User Services Recognition – November 2017

User Services recognizes and values the hard work and effort of our team and we are excited to highlight the following individuals who were nominated to receive an award at our November All-Staff meeting for their accomplishments.

  • Abrianna Barca
    • Abrianna is a mastermind of scheduling, coordinating and whiteboard brainstorming! I’ve always admired these abilities in her but I am extremely grateful for her willingness to share these skills- especially when it comes to onboarding. Her assistance, patience and skill in coordinating activities and schedules is superb and was of great relief when I was struggling to onboard and arrange schedules for 4 full-time employees starting in pairs on staggered weeks.
    • Abrianna volunteered to represent User Services at the first ever DoIT Career Exploration Fair. Abrianna, you’re awesome!
  • Andy Muschlewski
    • Andy continues to be an invaluable source of institutional knowledge and always willing to jump in and help apply it when needs arise. Thanks Andy.
    • I’m nominating Andy for serving as a liaison with the Dev team to ensure that POS doesn’t break, and for always being willing to work weekends. Thank you!
    • Outstanding external customer service. Before the ECM location was officially open for the morning, Andy did some trouble shooting and came up with a fix for a customer that was having configuration issues with a group of rental laptops.
  • Angela Terrab
    • Angela was a huge help on the Level 2 team in going out of her way to help train four new hires at once, including creating a checklist to get us all set up with the tools and resources needed. Thank you, Angela!
    • I’m nominating Angela for her help and hard work getting Help Desk support processes and documentation updated for Campus Network Housing, just days before move-in!
    • Exceptional customer service! During Fall Rush, Angela assisted several Learn@UW customers that had walked to the DoIT Tech Store seeking help with a complex Learn@UW issue.
  • Brent Lesley
    • Brent was able to provide fantastic service for our customers at the Wisconsin Humanities Council by working in consultation with System’s Engineering to completely replace their aging server infrastructure and successfully migrate all of the services from the old server to the new. This was a complex, multi-step process that required a high level of organization and expertise, as well as strong communication skills to ensure the customer was kept informed during every phase of the project.  Nice work, Brent!
  • Brian Gratrix
    • For having a great vision for our new office space during our recent office moves. Brian took a fresh approach and came up with an office design that created great work and collaboration spaces.  2130 is a happy place!
    • Brian was one of four people who willingly relocated his workplace so that we could make room for additional staff in his former office. He worked with us to help us roll with the changes, and enabled us to build a better space for some Level Two staff who we relocated to his former office.
  • Chris Grosspietsch
    • Chris was one of three people who willingly relocated his workplace so that we could make room for additional staff in his former office. He’s always a team player, and is awesome to work with!
  • Chris Last
    • Chris volunteered to represent User Services at the first ever DoIT Career Exploration Fair. Thanks for arranging the swag, Chris!
  • Collin Leavitt
    • Collin has done a great job in owning his professional development by being intentional in proactively managing his time for cross-training in the SAS unit.
    • Collin has led a team in conducting a complete physical inventory of all of the computers supported by DS as part of the Division of Enrollment Management.
  • David Schlaefer
    • Exceptional work on the space planning team. David consistently sought feedback from the Repair team and always maintained a high level of enthusiasm for the project.
  • Dawn Karls
    • Productivity and cost savings – Dawn and her team of students have done an incredible job taking on the responsibility of managing the Apple Product portfolio in addition to all of their other responsibilities, and making this transition as seamless as possible for all of the Tech Store and Logistics. Thank you for all your hard work!
  • Fred Murray
    • I want to thank Fred for stepping up and providing leadership support for the Office of Data Management and Compliance in their effort to pilot a new piece of software called Toad Datapoint for the entire campus. Fred willingness to step up and provide support is appreciated given his already very full workload.  Thanks Fred!
  • Henry Huang
    • During the beginning of this semester Henry Huang went over and above in his dedication to customer service. [Due to staffing model changes at Union South and the SAC], on a daily, even multi-daily basis, Henry ensured that each lab location was functioning at 100% capacity, even though his primary location is at Memorial Union. Great Work Henry!
  • Jason Atkins
    • Jason shared his technical expertise in representing DoIT’s involvement with conference center technology support as part of a conference call with consultants from Huron Consulting.
    • Jason is an engaged member on the Partners in Giving committee. Jason’s participation on this team allows DoIT staff persons to make positive contributions to our larger society and make the world a better place.
    • Jason provided phenomenal customer service throughout an experience with a particularly complicated Box issue. He worked with me throughout the process to ensure all the steps were communicated to me in a timely manner and he stuck with the issue until he solved my problem. Thanks Jason!
    • Jason volunteered to represent User Services at the first ever DoIT Career Exploration Fair. Kudos to Jason!
  • Jayme Dickenson
    • Jayme continues to go above and beyond for our customers, especially Transportation Services. Transportation has a responsibility to keep all of our automated parking ramps functioning. This responsibility can often create stressful situations and Jayme’s assistance with this important service has not gone unnoticed. She has created a great relationship with Transportation Services and has been able to handle daily requests in addition to rolling out new hardware to the various lots at the same time.
    • While we have been short-staffed, all of our team members have pitched in to serve our customers, take on extra duties for Athletics game handling and also assisting with new staff onboarding. They’re constantly helping out each other and ensuring that our customer needs are met.
  • Jeff Meyers
    • Unprecedented Collaboration, Productivity, and Support within the Tech Store group. Jeff consistently supports the TS staff with resolving advanced, complicated, and technical issues that sometimes occur in POS. Jeff’s advanced CBS & POS knowledge, and his collaborative and friendly attitude results in a seamless experience for customers which allows us to continue to provide excellent customer service.
  • Jeff Wiltzius
    • Jeff was one of four people who willingly relocated his workplace so that we could make room for staff from his team. His flexibility and willingness to move enabled us to build a better space for some Level Two staff.
    • Jeff volunteered to represent User Services at the first ever DoIT Career Exploration Fair. Excellent job, Jeff!
  • Karl Weirauch
    • Outstanding productivity and significant contributions to the Tech Store group. Karl has consistently delivered a high standard of service and productivity, and it’s with his departure from the TS group to Departmental Support that the TS team realizes the full scope of all of the tasks and responsibilities that he’s owned for so long. Of notable mention are the contributions he’s made to our KB and Cherwell. Thanks, Karl!
  • Nathan Van Hogen
    • Stepping up to cover for Bascom support while we work to hire a replacement.
  • Nick Reynolds
    • I would like to recognize Nick for his help with setting up our Customer Appreciation Event reservation system using our new e-Commerce magento platform. This was a new idea and there was risk involved in getting the system up working and in time for the promotion kick-off to our customers. His attention to detail in populating the many product details to make the customer experience a positive one is greatly appreciated!
  • Pat Daley
    • Pat has been a tremendous help with our latest recruitment. Not only did he facilitate the entire recruitment, he also gave his valuable insight into the process. We were extremely successful due to his efforts.
    • While we have been short-staffed, all of our team members have pitched in to serve our customers, take on extra duties for Athletics game handling and also assisting with new staff onboarding. They’re constantly helping out each other and ensuring that our customer needs are met.
  • Patrick Johnson
    • Patrick participated on the planning committee for the first ever DoIT Career Exploration Fair and took on additional responsibility to work with departmental representatives to staff the fair and provide resources. His excellent communication skills and thoughtful approach contributed to an extremely successful event. I also want to note that Patrick went above and beyond the day of the event to set-up the equipment. Thanks for your hard work, Patrick!
  • Roksana Baladi
    • Roksana brightened up the space in 1150B by placing fun seasonal print outs outside of our work spaces. Thanks for the smiles! 🙂
  • Sean Bossinger
    • Sean volunteered to serve as the User Services representative for the first ever DoIT Career Exploration Fair. He successfully coordinated volunteers and resources which well-represented the department at the event. Also, he was a great advocate and encouraged staff attendance. Thanks for all you do, Sean!
    • As the Women in User Services Team shifted missions. The Assistant Directors were asked to each take on hosting an event. Sean stepped up and welcomed the opportunity to host the first AD hosted event. He quickly reached out to his contacts and has done an amazing job with taking the lead and embodying the inclusive environment we work to instill daily. We are all excited to attend this Friday’s event!
  • Steve Schroeder
    • For working tirelessly in the days leading up to fall rush to ensure Help Desk agents had all the information and resources they needed.
  • Teresa Arauco
    • Outstanding commitment to communication and transparency. Teresa has contributed nearly 30 articles between FY17 and today. Teresa strives to ensure that all User Services staff have access to the information that impacts them.
  • Tony O’Rourke
    • While we have been short-staffed, all of our team members have pitched in to serve our customers, take on extra duties for Athletics game handling and also assisting with new staff onboarding. They’re constantly helping out each other and ensuring that our customer needs are met.
    • Tony is an excellent employee who has really done a great job helping out our short-staffed team.
  • Wanjiru Pontes
    • Wanjiru was one of four people who willingly, and rapidly, relocated her workplace so that we could make make better utilization of space in offices on the 2nd floor. She was the first to raise her hand and recommended herself for the move.


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: http://www.katherinemilkman.com/multimedia/

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

All-Staff Lunch on 11/9/2017

Just a reminder that we will have our All-Staff Lunch gathering on Thursday, November 9th from 11:45am to 1:00pm in 3139A/B/C.

We have the room starting at 11:30 so feel free to come by early for some extra social time and to get your food.

Our agenda for this meeting:

  • New staff introductions
  • Recognize staff for their achievements
  • Discuss the activities of some of our strategic projects
  • Tech Store updates
  • Update from Brandon on departmental activities

As always food is provided and there will be gluten free and vegetarian options available. As a reminder we are a bring your own beverage event.


contributed by The All-Staff Planning Team

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