Whether it’s a search and rescue mission in the mountains of Oregon, or a campus-wide effort to keep a major university running safely during a pandemic, the same general rules apply:
- Many people from different disciplines must come together to determine how to approach the mission.
- At the same time, every group works toward the same goal—whether you’re trying to find a lost hiker, or you’re building an app to support health and safety on a large campus.
Chief Technology Officer Todd Shechter is certainly familiar with either scenario—with 15 years of search-and-rescue experience out west, and also having served at UW–Madison for the past year in a coordinating role for the university-wide effort to build and maintain the Safer Badgers app and related technology infrastructure.
For the latter collaborative feat, Shechter received honors last month in the UW–Madison Student Affairs Awards Ceremony for the 2020-2021 academic year, hosted by the Student Affairs Professional Development Committee.
Shechter received the Outstanding Student Affairs Partner Award for Health & Wellbeing at the June 3 ceremony. His nomination, from University Health Services (UHS), noted Shechter’s “extraordinary commitment” to the health and safety of the university during the pandemic by assisting UHS with the technology needed to support operations during the pandemic.
“Todd provided exceptional support, service, guidance, and insight into making the technological infrastructure of campus technology operations work well,” the nomination notes.
“Todd rapidly engaged his team to support UHS, knowing that while our operations are always mission critical, in light of a global pandemic, we needed infrastructure and guidance to how to add testing, an app, new phone systems, and an isolation and quarantine management system up and running in months, sometimes weeks, and often days.”
Shechter emphasized that this significant body of often rapidly-changing work represented a major collaborative effort, both across DoIT and within the broader university community, for which he was honored to serve as a conduit.
“The award was in my name, but was representative of a large campus group of folks that came together to make all the technical pieces for our COVID response work in a seamless way,” Shechter said. “For my part, I saw my role as bringing a lot of great people together, in many different work streams—and it’s neat to be in a place where you can pull different communication channels and teams together.”
Within DoIT, those efforts involved every team within the division in some way, Shechter noted. Just a snapshot:
- User Services and the Help Desk coordinated a large-scale mobile phone distribution system, Safer Badgers documentation, and the large increase in Help Desk calls.
- Network Services played a key role in the set-up of the COVID testing sites secure wifi.
- Systems Engineering & Operations helped manage complex process and incident response issues.
- Application Infrastructure Services had a critical role in tying various identity and access management pieces together.
- Web and Mobile Solutions (WaMS) developed custom applications for COVID-19 surge testing as well as solutions for verification of Badger Badge state.
- Out of Enterprise Business Services, Salesforce-powered processes helped tackle complicated isolation and quarantine efforts as well as tracking COVID-19 testing compliance.
- The Project Management Office helped to bring together all parts of the project, and played the critical role of documenting business needs and data flows maps.
- Cybersecurity evaluated the different applications deployed throughout the response efforts.
Academic Technology provided training assistance.
- Human Resources and Financial Services helped navigate a variety of issues, and the Communications team disseminated information to our audiences along the way including web pages, interactive app walk-throughs, and helping to answer a continuous stream of stakeholder questions.
Administrative Information Management Services (AIMS) was (and continues to be) another key contributor alongside DoIT and UHS, Shechter noted.
“It was like a triangle coming together—and it’s staying together,” Shechter said. “Now with AIMS being part of our division, we’re looking forward to even stronger collaboration in the future.”
While Shechter is quick to acknowledge the university-wide collaborative efforts to make these large-scale projects happen, his UHS nominators were also quick to laud Shechter’s role as an individual contributor—under immense time constraints and pressure.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that Todd spent dozens of hours per week assisting UHS during the pandemic—all in addition to his ‘day job,’” the nomination states.
“Todd has become an invaluable member of the campus community. He has made a difference at our university, exemplified the mission of the university, and has positively impacted the way UHS functions. His skills, knowledge, and willingness to help others, and dedication to our university make him an ideal Outstanding Student Affairs Partner Award (recipient).”
Watch the Award Ceremony
In December 2020, Student Affairs also honored DoIT teams for the 2019-2020 academic year for the online Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) and Wiscard projects.
The Student Affairs Award Ceremony for the 2020-2021 academic year was streamed live on YouTube on June 3. Watch the ceremony and meet the other recipients.