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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