Alvin Harris– Interview with Steve Rutledge
Alvin Harris was one of the UITS nominees for the President Staff Excellence Award 2015. This award is for the employees who give excellent example of customer service, process improvement, and positive attitude for the common goal of CSU. Mr. Harris exemplified all of these and more! His tireless energy and his great customer service is well known throughout campus. It is no surprise that he was recognized for this prestigious award. Mr. Harris always looks for ways to increase efficiency, not only with UITS but with the university as a whole. Congratulations, Mr. Alvin Harris!
James Chappel- Nomination Form
Title: Classroom Instructional Technology Support Manager
Department: University Information Technology Services
To support your nomination of the above staff member, please explain how the nominee excels in each of the following categories. If needed, please feel free to attach an additional sheet of paper.
- Consistent demonstration of excellent job performance to include dedication to work ethic, and demonstrated methods of improving efficiency in the workplace, as well as other examples of excellence.
James has been with CSU for over 22 years and I have known him for only 4 of those. However, it seems like I have known him a lot more because of his down-to-earth nature, his honesty, and his lack of selfishness when it comes to getting the job done. Everyone I come in contact with while talking and working with James never has anything negative to say about him. The comments and discussions inevitably end up saying how James came through for me the other day, he was wonderful with the support he gave me, or that he came in over the weekend when I had an emergency, and the list goes on and on.
The Classroom Instructional Technology Support Team is the top performer in eQuest keeping open tickets down below 10 on a regular basis. James ensures that his team members respond to every ticket that comes in during that same day. No one does a better job at updating and completing eQuest requests than his team.
James is always coming up with new ways to improve his teams’ processes in addition to ways he can improve the support faculty receive to be more efficient. With classes starting at 7:30am and ending at 10:30pm, someone in the classroom support center has to be available to take calls from faculty members during their class time. The student staffing model ensures that someone is available at all times when faculty call-in with a classroom issue so classes are not cancelled and faculty and students have the best teaching and learning experience. James understands the worst call that could come into the center is when a faculty member is teaching and no one is available to support or to fix the issue in the classroom.
The Student Technology Fee (STF) Grant process is an amazing technology boost for CSU, students, and faculty. James is instrumental on providing quotes for 10-20 people every year using his extreme knowledge of technology so the quotes are right for the department and perfect for the spaces. He understands he has the responsibility of being a fair steward of the STF funds. James also created a process to upgrade older technologies in classrooms using the STF keeping in mind the students come first, and that the faculty will use the technology to teach in the best technological spaces available.
- Commitment to CSU’s mission and values.
James tries really hard to engage faculty members with technology in the classroom spaces. It is becoming more important as UITS makes technology the center of the instructional and learning experience. Sometimes it is hard to get people to try new things, however, James’s dedication and tenacity of training and showing how new technology would help them in their teaching pedagogy has been fun to watch. He has won over some faculty members, but others seem to not want change. I know he will keep trying and I know he will succeed as he is one that won’t give up.
- Demonstrated teamwork and exemplary working relationships with supervisors and peers.
You know when you are in a meeting and someone doesn’t take their phone off ‘sound’ so invariably someone gets a phone call and they answer the call, stand up and leave the meeting. That is James for you! But you know when he does that, no one in the meeting gets upset. We all know that he is taking a call from someone who needs some support and will take care of the issue. James will profusely apology’s to the meeting attendees for the taking the call, but again, we all just shake our head as we know that someone has been taken care of and we are really proud of him. (If I do that, I get the ugliest and biggest stares ever).
I know that all of James’s peers respect and admire his work ethic, knowledge, and expertise on what he does and how friendly he supports everyone. Logistical Services has events on campus every day and CSU is hopping every weekend (you should come see). Someone will call or email the Help Desk for support and you know who is the first one on campus to solve the problem? Yep – James. A couple of weeks ago, he was out shopping and a call came in about some account issue and James was on campus within an ½ hour to handle the situation. He had sent an email out to everyone stating what the problem was and thanking everyone he had contacted who assisted with re-solving the issue.
- Exceptional attitude and performance in serving the needs of students, staff, faculty and visitors.
James’s middle name is ‘student and customer service’. Whatever is in the best interest of the student, James is there. He has two student employees assisting with all eQuest requests in classrooms and other spaces where there is technology installed. It is important to James that the students learn the ‘right’ way, i.e. how to take your time to fix something so it stays fixed and not do anything the easy way or fast just to get it done.
I’m not sure if I should say this, but James has had a hard year. With that said, CSU has always been on his mind and he has always had a smile on his face and has kept a great attitude. I’ve been here for 4 years and I’m fairly sure that James has lost vacation time every one of those years. I keep telling him to take time off and he says he will, but never for an extended period of time. He has actually been on campus during the holiday season breaks because that is the only time he can get into classrooms to upgrade the equipment to new technologies. (HR – we stayed in compliant of all rules).
- Any other criteria offered by the nominator that reflects the performance of the nominee and meets the goals and objectives of the university.
There are over 30 conference rooms on campus and James’s team supports all aspects of the technology in those spaces. Video conferencing, webinars, SKYPE, Google Hangouts, and there are few rooms with PolyComm systems that take the magic touch at times. Actually, all technology systems take the magic touch when people grab cables out of the wall, when they push every button to try to make something work, or put a wrong cable into the wrong adapter. To make these systems work, James is often on campus after hours helping students connect to Valdosta, assisting faculty members with their after hour video conferencing needs, and of course being in one of the Richards Hall conference rooms assisting with the CSU Leadership team helping them make their meeting successful.
Did you know that if we didn’t have James, graduation would not go as smoothly as you see it take place? Every graduation he is waiting (sometimes at the last minute at graduation) for the names of each student and the speeches that the dignitaries make. Once he gets the final script, he goes to the Civic Center and makes it happen, often times on the stage showing the dignitaries what to do and how to read the prompt.
All my comments are profoundly emotional for me. I hope I have portrayed James as the epitome of what CSU is. Students are #1, retention is really important and graduation is the answer to all students’ prayers, as well as their parents.