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Spotlight on ITSS Staff: Roger Petry

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For over 42 years Roger Petry has devotedly served UMD in a variety of capacities.

Photo: Roger Petry

What Roger Does for ITSS

Roger provides desktop support for customers in the areas of email/Gmail, Web browsers, Active Directory, Web publishing, database management, publishing, and general software.

Roger's Interests

When not at work, Roger was a member of his township's Fire Department for twenty-six years, and managed the Fire Department's Retirement fund. He is active with the Superior Hiking Trail Association, and looks after a section of the hiking trail between Duluth and Two Harbors, and a hiking trail within Duluth managed by the City Parks & Recreation Dept. Roger is active with the National Ski Patrol, and has patrolled at Spirit Mountain., Lutsen, Mont du Lac, and Giants Ridge where he yet patrols. He designed the original Web sites for the ski patrols at Spirit Mountain, Lutsen and Giants Ridge, and for the Regional level of the National Ski Patrol, using PHP, Perl and Javascript.

Roger's Background and History at UMD

Roger graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1971, with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, including computer programming courses using FORTRAN, COBOL, ALGOL, and LISP. He began his career at UMD in 1971 in the new Medical School, providing computer programming support. Roger wrote programs in Assembly Language, performing waveform analysis in Neurophysiology research, including Parkinson's Disease tremor, evoked action potentials of neurons, pulmonary and cardiovascular function. In 1978, Roger wrote ExamGen, a program which generated and printed randomized versions of an exam, and the accompanying Item Analysis and scoring program suite, with modified versions in use yet today at UMD. In 1983, Roger transferred to the UMD Library, and later to the Computer Center (ITSS) to manage UMD's first Student Computing Lab, stocked with 32 IBM Personal Computers sharing eight dot matrix printers, offering word processing, spreadsheet, and database software to UMD students. He assisted with the creation of the ITSS Student Computing Team. Some of our staff and faculty working yet at UMD used the Lab as students and student workers (including Barb Teske, just before she went to work in the UMD Business Office.)

Beginning in the 1980's, Roger worked with Disability Resources to procure the first set of adaptive software programs, including text magnification, voice recognition, speech synthesis, and learning disability support, and is a charter member of the UMD Commission on Disabilities. During this time, he created an off-campus housing database management system for UMD Housing, and later Kirby Student Center, originally in dBase and now Filemaker Pro, which is in use yet today. More recently, Roger established databases in Filemaker Pro in conjunction with Web-based forms to manage work orders and parking decal requests for UMD Housing. Also in the 1980's Roger was certified by WordPerfect Corporation and taught the WordPerfect word processing software to the campus until the University adopted the Microsoft Office suite as the standard.

For about ten years, Roger taught courses for the Mathematics and Computer Science Departments at UMD on programming with FORTRAN and Pascal. Roger continued to lead workshops on MS Office programs and the Dreamweaver Web development software. Most recently, Roger has provided general desktop support. Roger remembers a particularly fun programming project written in Pascal for Eugene Ley (a professor with HPER and the Dental Hygiene Program at UMD) who had commissioned Roger to write a program to help them categorize dental x-ray errors made by student hygienists and track their progress in the Program. "With Pascal, I could create data types representing the different categories of x-ray errors, and create values within each category representing each kind of error."

An Early Programming Project for UMD School of Medicine

Roger has worked on many significant programming projects over the years, here is one example: Robert Pozos, head of Physiology, launched a cooperative project with a cardiovascular surgeon and the Coronary Care Unit at the Miller-Dwan Hospital, to establish a "Long-term Trend Analysis" of CCU patients' vital signs. Roger worked with the clients to set up dedicated phone lines with 1200 baud modems between the hospital and the computer in the School of Medicine. He worked on that project for almost a year. It was quite the undertaking, involving lots of planning, programming, testing, patient security issues, etc.

Roger will be Retiring from UMD After Over 42 Years of Service

Roger plans to do more traveling and more volunteering in his retirement including some Web support. He probably will not provide computer support for hire. He says, "When you associate the "dollar" with what you do, it changes everything."

While Roger has enjoyed nearly every day during his forty-two and a half years working at UMD, he says that he has felt lucky every day. To quote him:

"If I were starting over again, I would be honored to work at UMD."

3 Comments

Roger will be sorely missed. I had several occasions to seek his assistance on a wide range of tech and word processing issues. He was the best; you always learned from Roger. His approach was gentle, caring, and very understanding. Just the last two weeks, he has provided me with assistance to help me with desk top skills to complete a manuscript for a publisher. Truly, a dedicated employee, Roger is the embodiment of a selfless, knowledgeable, and patient person. he will always explain the mechanics behind everything he did. In this regard, he is exemplary. UMD is privileged to have someone like him share his talents with us all. Thank you very much, Roger.

John Arthur

Roger's headquarters were in the old library when I started work in the late 1980s. Always friendly, Roger improved my computer skills in his workshops.
Moreover, he was the most consistently decent and upbeat person I knew during my 21+ years at UMD. Minnesota is lucky to have him treading its grounds.
Tom Zogg, reference librarian emeritus


I will miss Roger Petry. We worked together in
the UMD Library for a number of years, back in the
early days of PC computing. I learned a lot from
him informally and through his great seminars on
computer and software related topics. Most useful
for my family was "Having fun with Filemaker Pro."
We actually built stuff from that. Also, Roger helped me to be successful with a number of critical presentations during my career. I shall always
remember his assistance and friendly good humor.
Have a GREAT retirement Roger !!!

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