Bill Choate leaves Emory after 32 years of IT excellence

Bill Choate.

Bill Choate, a storage engineer II on the Enterprise Storage team, is retiring from Emory this week after 32 years in IT. “It’s been a long ride of constant change,” says Bill. “It’s been an amazing industry to work in. Things we do today were only pipe dreams just twenty years ago.”

Originally from Chattanooga, TN, Bill began his academic life at Georgia Tech, transferred to St. Andrews Presbyterian College, then finished up at UGA, where he earned a degree in computer science.

Bill started at Emory in 1987 at Crawford Long Hospital. Two years later, he became the group manager for the IBM mainframe operating systems at the University. His first campus office was in the Uppergate House (now known as the Tufts House), and he enjoyed working there. “Every office had a private bathroom!”

Bill spent the majority of his Emory career managing the mainframe operating systems, then switched to storage about ten years ago once everything was moved from the mainframe to PeopleSoft.

One of Bill’s proudest moments at Emory was being involved with the technical design of the North Decatur Building. “We bought state-of-the-art equipment at the time to make the computing footprint as small as possible,” says Bill. “Nonetheless, we still ended up with two very large rooms in spite of all the smaller sized equipment.”

When they moved out of the previous data center, Bill and his team designed a clever way to move the disk array without having to do an arduous 72-hour backup of all the data. Instead, the move happened in a few short hours and the method was duplicated around the country. “We had to do something; Healthcare would never let us be down for three days!”

“It’s interesting managing someone who knows more about the organization than I do,” laughs Dave Hauenstein, Bill’s manager. “Especially in regard to the people, the history, and how things have been done over the years.”

Thinking about his favorite memories, Bill says, “Early on, when the organization was called ITD, we would have cookouts away from campus. We’d bring our families, play volleyball and tennis, and have a fun barbecue. It was still a small organization, and these events were easy to organize.”

“The one big change I have noticed over the years is that we’ve changed from being more university-oriented to operating like a big business,” says Bill. “I think it’s important to remember that we are still a work family.”

Upon retirement, Bill plans to do more traveling. He and his wife Lilabet are planning to go to Scotland and Northern Ireland this summer.

In terms of advice to his fellow co-workers, Bill says, “Emory has so much to offer. Both of my kids attended Emory on the courtesy scholarship. It’s important to avail yourself of all the opportunities here that are presented to you as staff members. Just enjoy it.”

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Kim Comstock: “I enjoyed coming to work every day.”

Kim Comstock.

Kim Comstock, the business manager for LITS HR, is finally leaving Emory after 37 amazing years.

Born in Webster, NY (outside of Rochester), Kim attended college at Cedar Crest College (a private woman’s college in Allentown, PA) and earned a degree in philosophy and studio arts. “Philosophy makes you contemplate life. I still like reading philosophy books.”

Kim got married to Steve Comstock in 1976 and they lived in Manhattan, NY. However, once the couple decided to have children, they realized perhaps Manhattan wasn’t the best place. Steve’s company was just opening an office in Atlanta so off they went.

Kim started at Emory in 1981 but took a year off for each of her children. Her first job was as an administrator in the development office. When she returned from having her first child, she went to work with Dean Palms and President Laney. There, she enjoyed the first job-share in the history of Emory University with Denise Brubaker. After the birth of her second child, Kim worked for President Carter and William Foege of the CDC. Later, Ron Wood offered her an admin position in the Emory Computing Center (EUCC). She later became the HR manager and then business manager.

“I’ve really enjoyed the people at Emory,” says Kim.

In retirement, Kim will be joining Steve, who has been living the past year in Brussels, Belgium, working a communications job. However, he plans to retire on July 1 and they will begin a vacation to Brussels, Berlin (where Kim once went to school), Portugal, Normandy, and Vienna (“before it sinks”). Later, Kim is going on a trip with her sister to the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu.

“I’ve really enjoyed the people at Emory,” says Kim. “Many good friends have already retired. In my position, there was a tremendous variety to my work. I hope people found me helpful and friendly.”

“When I first started, we had less than 60 people and we enjoyed great picnics where we spent time with our co-workers and families. With the size of our organization, you don’t get to know people as well as you used to,” says Kim. “I do much of my work in email and I don’t get to see as many people as I used to.”

“Interestingly, the people in EUCC when I first started were not computer people, because computers weren’t really a thing yet. They were physicists and PhDs in fields such as chemistry. They were brilliant people with a wide variety of interests,” says Kim.

NOT John Connerat with Kim.

John Connerat, who managed Kim for several years, has this to say about her:

“It’s hard to believe that Kim will be retiring after 37 years at Emory University and that I was privileged to spend just a short amount of time with her: just a mere 13 of those 37 years! Being new to the division (but not new to Emory) back in 2005, Kim, along with the venerable Nyta Richardson, was the go-to source for information about anything and everything. I mean everything! She knew everyone, not just in the division but also key people across campus. You couldn’t walk across campus with her without running into someone that she knew. And she knew them well.”

“When a longtime business process, complicated floor layout, nonsensical job description, or even a drab paint color made no sense, she could recount the “inside story” of the discussions and the people that insisted on the crazy result. She always had an answer and often advised me to just “let it go.” I wonder how many times I took that advice! I remember spending time in her office and mine laughing uproariously about some of the predicaments that were created by her…or by me…or, quite frequently, by our colleagues. With her supreme calm and her wonderful disposition, she made my job a whole lot easier and a lot more fun.”

“Kim has given a lot to Emory over the years, and I’m privileged to call her a co-worker and a friend (even if she still thinks beer is “bitter.”) Whatever. Wine is too sweet! If that was our biggest disagreement over the years, I think we did pretty well together. I’ll miss seeing you around, Kim, but I’m excited for your future.”

In terms of advice for her colleagues, Kim says, “Working at Emory is more than just salary. There are many opportunities that people can take advantage of. I enjoyed coming to work everyday and loved the variety and diversity I found here. My career fit my life balance perfectly and for that I am very grateful.”

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With a twinkle and a smile, Al Shelton departs after 34 years of Emory service

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Al Shelton.

This week marks the last in a 34-year Emory career for applications developer and analyst, Al Shelton. It is hard for anyone to believe he’s actually leaving. “What?” says former co-worker Luciano Dalla Venezia. “I didn’t think he was ever leaving!”

Hired at Emory in 1986 to promote the use of PCs and get users off the VT100 terminals, Al started as a hardware bench technician and switched to software in the last 10 years of his career. He was one of the primary developers of the ServiceNow ticketing system, and also worked on the older Magic and Remedy ticketing systems.

What’s kept him at Emory for so long? “The challenge of the work and the people,” he says.

Al was raised on a farm in Chickasha, OK. “The area was known for building horse trailers. But I got tired of construction work and went back to school in my 20s.” Al got an associate degree in electronics and turned that knowledge into a lengthy IT career. He’s held many hardware and software certifications over the years.

One of his favorite Emory stories was when the department received an IBM token ring network without the benefit of any instructions from IBM. Even though the machines were still boxed up, Al began getting calls from IBM customers because he was the alleged “expert” in token ring installation. “We were experts in unboxing those machines, but that was about it.”

Former Emory co-worker David D’Haene sums up Al’s style this way, “Folks would ask for something. Al would listen and tell them ‘No.’ Then he and I would make it happen. He taught me that scotch is good and free scotch is very good. When Al would listen to me complain about work or life, he would wait, then tell a story that usually ended with sound advice – even if it was “don’t do it that way.”

“I have been lucky enough throughout my career to always have a ‘senior sage’ or Jedi Master in my teams, someone with not only deep institutional knowledge, but also worldly wisdom that transcends mere common sense. Al has been my Jedi Master at Emory,” says ITSMO manager Matt Hodgson. “I don’t think he realizes just how much respect everyone has for him, and how much we will miss him both personally and professionally.”

“Al has always told these jokes that you wouldn’t tell in mixed company,” says Sandra Harrison. “He knows the right people to tell them to who would get the joke and not be offended. He’s the best and I will miss him dearly.”

For retirement, Al is planning a “four corners trip,” where he intends to ride his red Harley Limited Low from Atlanta to Key West, to San Diego, to Seattle, to Bangor, ME. “Of course it’s red,” he quips. “It’s my sleigh!”

Al has been a professional Santa for eight years and loves the work. He also enjoys captaining his highly decorated 8-ball and 9-ball pool teams.

Still, Al Shelton is going to miss Emory. “Overall, Emory is a great company to work for,” he says. “It’s a fun place.”

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Don’t miss the final InfoForum of 2019 next week

logo for a lecture seriesWe are excited to present our fourth InfoForum for FY20 on Monday, December 9 at 10:00 am in the Jones Room. This is the first time we have hosted the InfoForum on a Monday, so don’t let it sneak up on you.

The agenda will be as follows:

  • Lyndon Batiste (Access and Resource Services) – “The Library Service Desk and Our Patrons”
  • Dana Haggas (Enterprise Applications) – “The Evolving World of Enterprise Applications”
  • Daniel Parson (Oxford College) – “Living and Learning on the Oxford College Farm”

Refreshments will be served beginning at 9:50. This month’s refreshments will be hummus and babaganoush, using FRESH CARROTS from the Oxford Farm.

If you have missed any of the InfoForums this year, you can watch replays below:


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Adam P. Newman, Digital Scholarship Specialist, ECDS

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“I’m really excited to not only be able to focus on digital projects full time, but to do so alongside the fabulous colleagues I’ve been working with and learning from over the past few years.” – Adam P. Newman

Adam P. Newman is the new digital scholarship specialist for Atlanta initiatives at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS). In this role he will manage the implementation of Emory’s ATL Dashboard project, a new initiative which will track and visualize Emory’s community engagements throughout the metro area. He also serves as the managing editor of the open access journal Atlanta Studies, which is published by ECDS.

Previously, Adam was working at ECDS in a part-time capacity as a special projects liaison while pursuing his PhD in the department of English, but in light of that experience decided to switch career trajectories. As Adam notes, “I’m really excited to not only be able to focus on digital projects full time, but to do so alongside the fabulous colleagues I’ve been working with and learning from over the past few years.”

Raised in Queens, NY, Adam earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Vassar College and will graduate with his Master’s in English from Emory this December.

Outside of work, Adam can often be found reading, listening to live music, and walking around town.

You can reach him at adam [dot] p [dot] newman [at] emory [dot] edu.

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LITS recent headlines and upcoming events

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Recent LITS headlines:

Upcoming LITS events:

(go HERE for more information for each event)

  • December 11LEAF Holiday Party: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, Woodruff Library (NOTE: this event for is Library employees only)
  • December 12 Pet Therapy Study Break: 11:30 am – 5:00 pm, Jones Room, Woodruff Library
  • December 12LITS Holiday Party: 3:30 – 6:30 pm, Emory Conference Center Ballroom
  • December 26, 27, & 30Winter Recess
  • January 8LEAF Coffee Hour: 2:00-3:00pm, Woodruff Commons, Rose Library, Woodruff Library Level 10
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