December 2012 Archives

The People in Your Neighborhood: Jenni Peterson

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Jenni Peterson has lived in Minnesota all her life. "I haven't strayed far from the Twin Cities area," she said. "I grew up in St. Paul and still live there now."

Jenni and her husband got married in October 2012. They own a duplex in St. Paul with their two-year-old Boxer named Rocky. They live in one half of the duplex and then rent the other half.

Though Jenni hasn't lived anywhere else but Minnesota, she loves to travel. She has been to a dozen countries, including all over Western Europe, Japan, Israel, Belize, Mexico, and Canada.

Her favorite spots to visit are Belize, where she recently went on her honeymoon, and Barcelona, Spain. "I studied abroad in Spain and I also spent a month after college there," she said. "I have been to Spain three times and have spent a total of six months of my life there. It's one of my favorite places."

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Not only does Jenni love to travel, but she also loves to eat. "If I could be anything, I would be a food and travel writer," she said. "I'd love to be like Jeffrey Steingarten, the author of The Man Who Ate Everything."

In fact, Jenni's love of travel and food is what helped her recently get the job as the Manager of University Veterans Services in One Stop. "When I was interviewing for the Manager position at Veterans Services, I did a presentation about my favorite food from each country that I've been to," she said. "I love studying other cultures and there is no better way to learn than to travel and eat."

Jenni has been working at the University and in One Stop Student Services for five years. Her first two years of working here, she was a One Stop counselor and then became a Senior Counselor in University Veterans Services. At the end of November, Jenni was promoted to the position of One Stop Manager where she manages University Veterans Services.

Now, Jenni oversees all of University Veterans Services, including managing the Veterans Affairs (VA) work-study students, three veterans coordinators, and five One Stop counselors. Jenni works with all students, but she primarily works with student veterans. Jenni will be working on the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) project in the coming months as well.

The best part about her job, Jenni says, is helping a "student veteran who has no idea where to start or go, and I'm able to help them transition to life at the U."

Jenni is in a unique position because she often has the chance to get to know the student veterans that come into her office. "There are roughly 750 students who receive GI Bill benefits, so we see them a few times a semester," Jenni said. "You get to be more familiar with veteran students and their families."

Though many people who work in University Veterans Services offices are veterans themselves, Jenni is the exception. "Prior to working here, I had little to no experience with veterans," she said. "I feel honored to serve veterans and University students as a whole."

One surprising thing you may not know about Jenni: she's an adrenaline junkie. She has gone skydiving, paragliding, and recently repelled 300 feet into a cave in Belize. "I'm a short woman so I don't fit the stereotype of the person who enjoys jumping out of planes," Jenni said. "But I love anything that gets my adrenaline going."

Jetset Jenni:
1. Her favorite movies are Casino and Amelie.
2. Jenni enjoys cooking, especially Mexican food, and loves to bake fresh bread.
3. People have often told Jenni that she looks like Natalie Portman.
4. Jenni is terrified of rodents, but bats are particularly frightening because they are "flying rodents."
5. Jenni studied Global Studies and Sociology and European Area Studies at the U.
6. Her favorite book series is the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson.
7. She loves the Flaming Lips. She has seen them in concert six times.
8. Her first concert was Alanis Morissette in junior high school.
9. Jenni loves to go camping, especially in the Boundary Waters.
10. Her best Halloween costume was when she dressed as a pumpkin sitting on a table. "My mom put a box over me to look like a table and my head was the pumpkin," she said.

Better Know a Unit--Scheduling Unit

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Under the umbrella of the Office of Classroom Management (OCM), lives the Scheduling Unit, resulting in a departmental structure that makes the unit unique amongst their peers.

"Other universities have their scheduling units nested under the registrar's office," said Nate Meath, reporting analyst. "We have a unique advantage being tied to OCM because we work closely with the people who design the space we schedule."

In fact, the Scheduling Unit is revered among higher education institutions. "We are well known for having a handle on scheduling and being cutting edge in scheduling technology," said Bob Quinney, scheduling system administrator. "People from other universities often ask us how we do things and how our office is set up."

But the unit didn't always operate this efficiently. Sandie Carlson, lead scheduler, will be in Scheduling for 20 years this December. "When I first started, we were scheduling rooms for classes on index cards and coordinating with people on the phone," she said.

Some of the Scheduling Unit's job duties include maintaining the integrity of the course data in PeopleSoft for the class schedule, course guide, and course catalog. They also manage the scheduling process and software for scheduling classes and finals each semester.

The Scheduling Unit is responsible for a multitude of processes and systems, serving staff, faculty, departments, and all campuses. The diversity of their work is challenging, but it's what makes it interesting as well.

"We go through the same processes every semester, but it's always changing and challenging. The sheer volume of our work is impressive," said Sarah Kussow, course and scheduling manager. "In each semester, we schedule more than 3,000 final exams, manage roughly 16,000 course sections, and schedule more than 3,500 events for the Twin Cities campus."

One major project that the team just completed is the acquisition of the newest scheduling software, Astra Schedule. The implementation process is underway currently, and it will affect the work of the entire unit, as well as all University campuses.

"This new software will have a positive impact on our work," said Bob. "It is all web based, so delivering the necessary information to people will be much easier. There is more functionality available with this software as well, including the ability to customize calendars and automate final exam scheduling. Currently, this is done manually for more than 3,000 final exams each semester."

Other benefits to this new software include an efficiency in all of the Scheduling Unit's processes, a decrease in the current workarounds they utilize, and the ability to have one scheduling software licence for all University campuses.

The training for Astra Schedule will begin in February. The Scheduling Unit and people they have
identified as "major academic power users on campus" will be trained on how to use the new system. "We are taking a train the trainer approach and expect most users to be trained throughout the spring and summer," Sarah said.

Another major part of the Scheduling Unit's job is to collect space utilization data for all campus spaces. They monitor how efficiently they use space and provide data to ASR managers and University administration.

Nate also conducts scenario planning each semester to determine workaround solutions to problems that may arise. For example, if a building is suddenly unavailable for a period of time, the Scheduling Unit is responsible for figuring out where to reschedule and place those classes.

"It's hard getting people to understand what we do," Bob said. "People have a really simple view of scheduling, but don't realize how complex it truly is. We try to optimize by providing more services for the University while using fewer resources. We do more, with less."

Scheduling Unit:
Sarah Kussow, course and scheduling manager
Kurt Neiswanger, events scheduler
Bob Quinney, scheduling system administrator
Sandie Carlson, lead scheduler
Nate Meath, reporting analyst
Christine Mounts, reports coordinator
Robert Wilson, finals/ECAS specialist

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Campus Relations Coordinator

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A new ASR Campus Relations Coordinator position will be posted in the near future. The person hired for the position will serve as the representative and main contact point for all campuses and will be responsible for overseeing the resolution of various items. The position will help facilitate student and academic related issues, ensuring that each campus has a voice in university matters.

So you stare at a screen all day. . .

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This is not good. Gluing your precious peepers to a computer monitor for six or more hours a day can actually cause computer vision syndrome, or CVS (yes, it's real.) This is not to say we should all quit our jobs for less eye-damaging pursuits, but it does mean we should be aware of ways to give our eyes a break every once in awhile. Here are a few tips to do just that. (Thanks for Paula in OCM for suggesting this fun find.)

Maintenance outage Jan. 5-6

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An annual data center maintenance outage will take place from 6 a.m. on Saturday, January 5 until noon on Sunday, January 6. During this time, all One Stop self-service applications (i.e. registration, grades, class schedule, etc.) will be unavailable.

Adios to personal web space

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U of M personal web space will be decommissioned June 30, 2013. In preparation for this, new personal web space folders will no longer be created as of Dec. 31, 2012. More information is available here. (Thanks to Grant in IT for this helpful announcement.)

ASR goals and accomplishments

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We did some really cool things last year in ASR, and the plan is to keep doing more. Check out our accomplishments from last year, as well as our goals for 2012-13. We work hard to make a difference in students' lives, and that's something special. Go us!

Need a new place to hang?

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Scheduling meetings with co-workers on other campuses can be tough. And a conference call can't replace a meaningful face-to-face conversation. So, what to do? A Google+ Hangout, of course! Google+ Hangout is a free video chat service from Google that enables group chats up to 15 people. It's similar to Skype, but allows for a group discussion rather than simply one-on-one. The technology is even so sophisticated that it knows how to focus on the person chatting. How cool is that? (If you don't have a webcam, you can still participate, but people won't be able to see you.)

Staff event videos available soon

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The PowerPoints, video of students, and video of the staff event will be available on the ASR intranet soon.

Give the gift of giving

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Just a reminder that we are collecting gift cards for the Student Parent Help Center during the month of December. The cards are given to student parents to help them purchase basic necessities, like groceries and diapers. Collection boxes are available in the various ASR buildings.

Get ready for some staff appreciation!

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The annual ASR staff appreciation event is Thursday, December 20 from 2-4 p.m. at the Library Bar in Dinkytown. Come celebrate the end of another successful fall semester with your co-workers. As always, the event will feature soda, coffee, appetizers, and door prizes! If you want to bring a really sweet door prize to add to the festivities, please bring it with you to the event.

Stressed? Relief is a click away

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It's easy to become stressed at work. Looming deadlines, piles of projects, and then throw in the upcoming holidays, and, well, life can feel a bit overwhelming. Setting progress deadlines, taking a break to walk around campus, not being afraid to ask for help, and planning (and taking!) a fun vacation are just a few ways to combat the stress of the season. Check out some more easy tips to help wind down as work winds up.

Veterans celebrated on YouTube

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This year's Student Veterans Appreciation Day took place on Thursday, November 15 at McNamara Alumni Center, and the recognition didn't stop there. The University's student veterans were also highlighted on YouTube.
Though the event is now over, be sure to say thank you to a veteran you know. Their courage and bravery is admirable.

'Replyallcalypse'... yep, it happened

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We've all been victim of an impulsive "reply all" at least once. Just be thankful your fast fingers didn't inundate 40,000 inboxes. Because that's just what one NYU student did, causing a virtual 'replyallcalypse.' So maybe that's a rare instance, but it is important to avoid hitting "reply all" to every single email you receive. Be sure the people copied on your response actually need to be kept in the loop. Are they key stakeholders for a project or main points of contact? If not, take it easy on the "reply all." No one wants an overly cluttered inbox.

Thank you, gracias, merci!

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However you say thanks, be sure to do so this holiday season to a colleague who has gone above and beyond. You can request an ASR-themed thank you card by contacting Debbie Henderson. Just let her know how many you need. You even have two options to choose from and the envelopes are included. See how easy that was?

Option 1:


Option 2:


Senator sighting

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Julie Selander, director of One Stop Student Services, and Bob McMaster, vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Education, recently hosted a visit from Minnesota Senator Terri Bonoff. While on campus, Senator Bonoff, who was also recently appointed chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, received a tour of STSS to see the One Stop and University Veterans Services office and a few classrooms. Julie and Bob were proud to share the good work the University is doing regarding student services and science teaching.

The People in your Neighborhood--Bob Quinney

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A Detroit native, Bob Quinney and his 100-pound, Standard Poodle named Spider currently live in Ventura Village in Minneapolis. His home, originally built in the 1880s, has been quite the project.

"I stripped the house to the studs when I bought it and put it all back together," Bob said. "I've built everything myself, including cabinets and replacement windows. It has taken eight years and I'm almost done."

When Bob isn't working on his house, he enjoys reading, watching movies, gardening, and knitting. He also loves to spend time with Spider.

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"People always stop us on the street and ask what kind of dog he is," Bob said. "He makes quite an impression."

Bob has a Bachelors of Science in psychology from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He also has taken numerous courses in art at Tennessee Technical University and the University of Minnesota. "I've probably taken enough to get another degree, but I haven't gotten one yet," Bob said.

Bob first started working at the University in December of 1997 in what was then called the Institute for Linguistics and Asian and Slavic Languages. During Bob's time at the University, he has moved around a few times and even left the U to pursue a job at another company.

In 2001, Bob joined the Scheduling Team in the Office of Classroom Management (OCM) for two years before moving to the Department of Art. However, he came back to OCM in 2005. Bob is now the Analyst and System Administrator for OCM's current scheduling system, R25.

However, as OCM transitions from R25 to Astra Schedule, Bob's work will remain much the same. "I focus primarily on ensuring that the interface between R25 and PeopleSoft stays in sync," Bob said. He will continue to make sure the system is up and running, monitor error logs, perform basic system maintenance, and be supervisor to two employees.

Before the U, Bob had a few interesting jobs, including for a tree cutting service company in Michigan. "I worked at this job when Detroit's elm trees were hit with Dutch Elm disease," Bob said. "It was tragic to have to cut down all these huge old trees with the disease."

Bob also worked at a gas utility company, which introduced him to the world of computers. "This was during the time when office computers were just getting introduced so the computer was the size of a table," Bob said.

And here's one interesting fact about Bob you probably never knew: Bob is also an avid singer.

He used to sing with a men's group at Wayne State University. They even sang at Westminster Abbey in London when they went on tour in Europe for a competition. They came in third place.

Bob's Bytes
1. His favorite movies are "Truly, Madly, Deeply" and "Lars and the Real Girl."
2. If Hollywood made a movie about his life, he would have Johnny Depp play him because "he's bizarre enough."
3. Bob has three sisters and one brother.
4. If Bob could be anything, he would be a migratory bird because there's "nothing better than flying."
4. Sly and the Family Stone was his first concert. The ticket cost $4.
5. When Bob was younger, he wanted to be a dentist. Now, Bob's biggest fear is going to the dentist.
6. Mumford & Sons is Bob's favorite musical artist.
7. Bob would love to have the superpower to make people disappear. "I guess I'd be an evil superhero," Bob joked.
8. The last book he read was called Wire to Wire by Scott Sparling.
9. Bob's favorite book is I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb.
10. If he could be a character for one day, he would be Atreyu from book The Neverending Story.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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