John Stiles, Jr. reflects on 34 years at Emory

John Stiles Jr.

After 34 years, John Stiles Jr. can look around Emory and see his mark quite easily. As the senior project manager who handled the network portion of academic, administrative, and healthcare construction projects at Emory, John has had a hand in nearly every academic building.

John started in 1985 as a network specialist II, where he troubleshot data installations around campus. Working under Mike Wilhoit, John was part of the EUCC (Emory University Computing Center). Later he would be promoted to engineer, before spending the majority of his career as a project manager, starting in the early 90s.

“In the early days, we would scrap for places to put our equipment in buildings,” recalls John. “As the IT industry started evolving, specifically the growth of networking standards, there became a greater need for oversight in renovations and new construction to ensure that the infrastructure that IT needed was in place.”

Public Pages, the IT newsletter when John joined in 1985. He’s listed on page 14 under “New Faces”

“What tells you that you’ve been here too long is when the new building you saw go up is being renovated for the second or third time,” laughs John.

One of John’s favorite projects was the DAS project (distributed antenna system), which enabled the hospitals to get cell service in the buildings. John considers it a tremendous success because they were able to convince AT&T to spend millions of dollars on infrastructure that would have been impossible for Emory to achieve.

When he worked on the Woodruff Library Annex, John’s name was place on a beam in the new structure, along with several others, to commemorate the effort.

Now that John’s retiring, he and his wife Gladys are moving to the mountains of western North Carolina, to a tiny town called Robbinsville, which is halfway between Murphy and Bryson City, NC. “It’s not in the middle of nowhere, but it’s definitely on the way to nowhere,” he jokes. His family is from that area.

Robbinsville, NC

The Stiles’ are building a house on the side of the mountain, and they are putting in a wood-working shop so that they can continue their life-long love of wood crafts. “I plan to while away the days sitting on the porch, drinking a cup of coffee, and reading a good book.”

Regarding his time at Emory, “Just like the corporate world, there are good times and bad times. I tell people to ride it out and remember that for every down time, there is an up time right behind it.”

Adds John, “The people here at Emory have been great. I’ve made lots of friends, both here and with the contractors and vendors I have worked with. Many of them will be lifetime friends. I’ve enjoyed seeing Emory grow, and I imagine when I come back for doctor visits that I will get lost because of the constant change.”

John likes to share a funny story about how he visited Emory’s “museum” as a fifth grader and they took him into a basement in one of the buildings on the Quad. “I had no clue back in the 60’s that this would be where I spent the majority of my life.”

His favorite work story came from the early networking days. They used copper cabling across campus and were able to test the integrity of the network using a paperclip, shaped into a “U,” and inserted into the four-prong network jack. Rather than tromp all over campus, they could talk to end users on the phone and walk them through the process of inserting the paperclip. “One day, we were talking a person through the process and heard a scream on the phone. They had inserted the paperclip into the electrical outlet!”

“We were encouraged to do it ourselves after that.”

John’s lasting belief is that “Emory is a good place to work. My advice to new hires is to contribute early and as much as you can to your retirement, because you cannot get that time back later.”

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