Meet the 2017 – 2020 Board – Allan Chen

This article is part of a series introducing the 2017-2020 SIGUCCS Executive Committee. Each Board member submitted answers to questions created by the SIGUCCS Marketing Committee.

Allan ChenHow did you get involved in SIGUCCS?
My first conference was in 2005, in Monterey. I was at Stanford at the time so it was a “short” trip down the coast for me. We stayed in a separate hotel and had to walk over a mile each way. I got so much out of the conference, I didn’t mind the extra time on my feet each night, at all.

Why did you want to be a Board Member?
I feel I can contribute at a different level and have a part in guiding the organization forward by being on the Board.

Who in SIGUCCS inspires you?
There is no one answer to this. I have been motivated and inspired by so many in SIGUCCS over the years that I can’t point to anyone one person. And at each new conference I meet more inspirational folks.

What do you wish you knew before you decided to be on the board?
I think the breadth of what the Board does is quite expansive. Guiding an organization such as SIGUCCS is a large task, one that must be definition involve the community itself. I don’t think I was caught unawares, but I do wish I had had a better understanding of how broad the mission of the Board is. It’s both impressive and intimidating.

You could always stop and talk to me about…
Photography, especially traditional film work. I still shoot whenever I can, in medium and large format, though I usually bring digital on trips.

What do you do for fun?
Photography, a bit of hiking, and then it’s spending time with the kids (ages 3 and 6).

What are you looking forward to at the SIGUCCS 2018 Conference?
Reconnecting with friends and colleagues, and making new connections.

SIGUCCS Conference Presentation Formats

What’s up with all the different presentation formats at SIGUCCS? What’s the difference between a presentation and a poster? And what is a lightning talk?

SIGUCCS has an opportunity for a variety of session types and we are looking for people to present in all of them!

podiumAre you doing something interesting at work? Something that might be of interest to others in higher ed IT? Have you found a unique way to manage help desk tickets? Do you have a great method for getting faculty to come to training? Have you created a web site or documentation that has made your service so much easier to support? All of these are great ideas to share at SIGUCCS.

So, what’s the best way to share?

One option is a standard presentation. This involves writing a short (4-8 page) paper that outlines your presentation prior to the conference. The cool part is that this paper gets published in the ACM digital library. This is an official publication source. At the conference, you have an hour long time slot in which to give your presentation and answer questions of your attendees. For information about the paper process, read The SIGUCCS Presentation Paper.

audience member hand raisedIf you know people at other institutions are doing something similar, suggest a panel presentation. This is one where each school would present on their own methods and discuss similarities and differences in approaches. The audience benefits from multiple perspectives. Not sure how to find co-presenters? Use the SIGUCCS-L email list! If you are not a member, join today ( A paper is optional for this type of presentation.

If you have a great process to share and it can be an interactive session, submit a proposal for a facilitated discussion. This type of session allows you to get attendees to work together, brainstorm, etc. You become the moderator/facilitator of the session. And everyone comes away learning something. A paper is also optional for this type of presentation.

Don’t want to present to a group? Submit a proposal for a poster. The poster session provides you an opportunity to discuss your topic/project one-on-one with other attendees. For more information about the poster session and how beneficial this can be to you and your career, see Present a poster at the SIGUCCS Annual Conference.

presentation attendeesAnd what the heck is a lightning talk? Read more at Lightning Talks at the SIGUCCS Annual Conference

The 2018 SIGUCCS Annual Conference is accepting presentation proposals through February 16, 2018. Submit your proposal today!

~Lisa Brown

Lightning Talks at the SIGUCCS Annual Conference

Did you know that the 2018 SIGUCCS Conference marks the five-year anniversary of the Lightning Talks format? During this period, attendees gave over forty bite-sized presentations, and these Lightning Talks have turned into one of the more popular sessions during conferences. For those who are curious about these mini-presentations, let’s answer some of the more common questions about these sessions.

So what happens during Lightning Talks sessions at SIGUCCS conferences?

lightning in sky

During Lightning Talks sessions, there are typically about five presenters. Speaker have 7 minutes each to present, followed by 2-minute question-and-answer period (during the Q & A, the next speaker prepares for their talk). The talks and Q & A periods repeat until all speakers have presented. There is also a general Q & A forum at end of the session.

Seven minutes? Why would anyone want to give such short presentations?

Lightning Talks offer an interesting take on traditional (longer) full-length presentations. They force speakers to distill their ideas into key points and encourage concise presentations. Instead of delving into the weeds, speakers focus on high-level ideas. Some presenters also use this format to work out nascent ideas which bloom into full-length presentations at a later time. For first-time conference attendees and those who are afraid of public speaking, Lightning Talks are a great gateway into giving presentations.

Why did SIGUCCS add Lightning Talks in their recent conferences?

mo lightning talkLightning Talks offer opportunities for conference attendees to get involved. By having at least one session with Lightning Talks, attendees have the opportunity to be exposed to more presentations and ideas. Speakers have an option of giving shorter talks instead of (or in addition to) presenting a full-length session. Furthermore, other Special Interest Groups (SIGs) of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) have also incorporated Lightning Talks in their conferences.

How should I prepare for a SIGUCCS Lightning Talk?

First of all, submit your ideas to SIGUCCS 2018 Conference Call for Proposals (deadline is February 16). Once selected to present, arrange your ideas into a logical order with flow—you want your audience to fluidly follow your story. Slides are optional during these presentations, as are conference papers.

Do attendees actually get hit by electrostatic discharges?

man wearing digital signFortunately that is not the case, but many attendees have been struck by inspiration and fresh ideas from these talks. We’ve seen the following memorable Lightning Talks during past SIGUCCS conferences, including:

Using Twitter API technology to create a wearable signage system

Becoming a better employee through travel experiences

Lessons learned from helpdesk redesign iterations

Five tips for beating procrastination

Making quick support videos using a smartphone

Overcoming doubts and fears to initiate career changes

Where can I learn more about Lightning Talks?

Fortunately, this short presentation format is becoming widely adopted at various industries’ conferences and events. The American Library Association published best practices for Lightning Talks, and there are useful guides from the Software Sustainability Institute and For SIGUCCS-specific Lightning Talks topics, the SIGUCCS Slack channel and email listserv are great places to ask question and share ideas.

– Mo Nishiyama

Present a poster at the SIGUCCS Annual Conference

You might ask yourself, “Why should I present a poster at the SIGUCCS conference?  What’s in it for me?” Well, there are plenty of good reasons you should present a poster!  You’ll get valuable experience in presenting, experience writing a conference paper, and you’ll also get to network with other people who might be doing similar work.

Beth Lynn NolenDon’t be intimidated by the word “presentation” – the poster session does involve presenting, but on a smaller scale.  You’ll get to talk directly to people who are interested in your poster and what you’re presenting about, as opposed to a room full of attendees.  You’ll also gain valuable experience in writing a short research paper for a conference – and your paper will be published in the ACM Digital Library.  Sharing information about interesting projects you’ve been working on at your university is definitely a plus – and with the poster format, you can talk about topics that might not quite fit into a typical presentation format.  And last, but certainly not least, poster presenting is fun!  You can be creative with your posters to help make them stand out and be more eye-catching, and you’ll get to talk with all sorts of people who are curious about what you’re presenting on.

What’s the process like?

The process for submitting a proposal and preparing to present is pretty straightforward.  The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out what you want to present about.  Once you’ve decided on a topic, you’ll write up your proposal abstract – aim for 150-250 words for your abstract.  This can be tough, especially if you have a lot you want to talk about, but remember this: whatever you don’t cover in the abstract, you can talk about in your poster and its accompanying paper.  When you’ve written up that proposal, the next step is submitting it!  The deadline for proposals has been extended to February 16th, so you’ve got a little extra time to put together and submit your proposal.

After your proposal’s been submitted and accepted (which is exciting on its own!), then you get to write the paper that your poster will be based off of.  While writing a paper might sound intimidating, keep in mind this one will be short (2-4 pages), and you get the additional bonus of your paper being published!  The paper writing process will also help you organize your thoughts before making your poster, and help guide you in the poster creation process.

Speaking of the poster creation process: once your paper is written, you can get to work on its accompanying poster!  This is where the fun starts – be creative in presenting your content.  You want to catch the attention of your fellow conference-goers, and get them interested in your poster.  If you’re not sure where to start on your poster, Indiana University’s UITS IT Training has an award-winning and publicly available resource on creating research posters here:

After finishing your poster, the last step in the process is to wait eagerly for the poster session at this year’s conference.  That might be hard, especially if you’re writing about something very exciting, but the wait will be completely worth it.

Let’s fill the poster session at the SIGUCCS Annual Conference with exciting posters about all the interesting projects we’ve been working on this year – submit your proposal today!

Beth Lynn Nolen

The SIGUCCS Presentation Paper

Why is a written paper required to present at the SIGUCCS Annual Conference?

As part of our sponsorship with ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), SIGUCCS is responsible for contributing to scholarship in the computing sector. We are just one of a number of special interest groups associated with ACM (

The ACM Digital Library (DL) ( is the world’s most comprehensive database of full-text articles and bibliographic literature covering computing and information technology.  The DL is designed to facilitate information dissemination and sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration for computing professionals, practitioners, researchers, and educators. ACM also sponsors a number of publications ( and expects its membership to contribute. Your SIGUCCS membership entitles you to access all SIGUCCS-submitted content!

You may think writing a paper is a huge undertaking order to give a presentation, however, the paper writing process fulfills several objectives.

  • Organization: Writing the paper helps you organize your thoughts around your presentation. It does that early in the process, not the week (or night) before your presentation. By the time of the conference, you should have a great presentation put together!
  • Professional Development: The paper you write is an official publication and adds to your resume. How many IT staff can boast about their publications?
  • Editing & Review:  Your paper is reviewed by peers before publication. A team of SIGUCCS volunteers works together to make sure that your paper is put together logically and thoughtfully. This helps make sure that you look your best when you present! Would you like to be part of the SIGUCCS 2018 paper review team? Email

Consider presenting at SIGUCCS! Don’t let the paper writing process stop you! Submit a proposal today.

  • Lisa Brown
  • Laurie Fox

Why Present?

Many of us already know the old platitude about why you should present at a conference: “It’s an opportunity to share professional knowledge and experiences to industry peers.” At the annual SIGUCCS conference, typical reasons for giving a presentation include gaining professional experience, sharing your institution’s successes and/or lessons learned, and providing an exposure opportunity for your staff. In some cases it can also be an incentive for your  institution to fund your conference costs.

rocket launch
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

But there’s another why for submitting a proposal.

Ask yourself, “When I’m at the SIGUCCS Annual Conference  in Orlando this October, what presentations would I be interested in attending?”

What excites you about your daily work? What challenges have you conquered in your profession? What are topics that you feel that other IT professionals in higher education may be interested in learning more about? What subjects would inspire you to reach for the stars?

Not sure where to start? Past SIGUCCS conference attendees have presented (and learned) valuable lessons related to implementation of new technologies, management strategies, budgeting dilemmas, creative professional development opportunities, communication approaches, development of organizational culture, and personal effectiveness improvements. In many cases, compelling presentations cover more than one area.

Maybe you already have some ideas about what you would be interested in presenting at the SIGUCCS 2018 Conference.  If not, some topics of interest might include (these examples are from past SIGUCCS conferences):

  • Selecting and implementing technology solutions to comply with privacy regulations (e.g., FERPA, institutional requirements)
  • Transitioning email storage system from on-site storage to a cloud-based solution while maintaining high availability and data security
  • Deploying a new Content Management System on campus with no additional staffing or budget—while meeting deadlines
  • Elevating student staff morale and body of knowledge by using a badge-based gamification approach
  • Safeguarding the continuity of institutional leadership by investing in succession planning
  • Communicating technology changes to campus to an audience that is change-averse
  • Overhauling customer-facing documentation by inspiring readers to take action —instead of littering pages with confusing technical jargon
  • Redeploying and reorganizing staff and budget after an organizational overhaul —while maintaining high level of customer satisfaction
  • Researching print management solutions in campus labs which led to more effective administration and reduced paper costs
  • Leveraging a real-time social media platform to create an innovative signage system for pushing campus-wide alerts

These are just some of the launch points for a proposal. They appeal to attendee’s curiosities and successfully address the “what’s in it for me?”).

Presentation topics are everywhere in your daily work. With a myriad of possibilities, it’s not a matter of whether or not to submit a proposal—it’s a matter of deciding which idea to propose!

When proposing, don’t be afraid of the “snowflake syndrome”—or being afraid that no one will be interested in a topic that seems unique to your institution. Although no two schools are identical, SIGUCCS members share similar challenges and concerns. They are more than happy to take away valuable lessons learned from your presentation!

Your proposals can take shape in many formats. Interested in diving into a topic from several angles and perspectives? Collaborate with your peers from other institutions to co-present a proposal for a talk or panel discussion. Do you have an exciting idea but have concerns that it may not be deep enough for a full session? No worries—propose a Lightning Talk! Do you have visual poster or instructions that helped solve challenges at your school? Develop a  poster presentation.

With so compelling presentation topics, having to decide which sessions to attend at SIGUCCS 2018 is a problem that many attendees will be more than happy to entertain. Let’s make that happen — submit your proposal!

SIGUCCS 2018 Conference proposals are due February 2. Learn more about conference proposals at

~ Mo Nishiyama

SIGUCCS 2017 Conference Takeaway – What’s Your Story

What’s Your Story: Creating a Narrative for Training

Presented by: Casey Davis, Arizona State University

Getting participants, let alone instructional designers, excited and engaged about creating and facilitating training for faculty and staff is a challenge. Instead of leading with required number of training and looking at average attendance, start with a story. Humans are hardwired for stories. We all want to be the hero, or work alongside the hero of the story.

During the session, Casey asked us to flip our traditional understanding of training (content is king) and instead focus more on the human aspect – the story behind what we are doing and why. This helps us connect better with our learners for more effective results, and align our training with the overall operations and function of our larger IT teams.

Read the paper at:


I’m getting ready to embark on a MAJOR training initiative where I’ll be creating everything from scratch, so I was very much in the mindset of CONTENT FIRST. This presentation gave me ideas about how to make my upcoming trainings more relatable and appealing to the learner by turning my focus to a STORY, rather than just the dry how-tos of a new software product. – Becky Cowin

SIGUCCS 2017 Conference Takeaway – Big IT Projects and No Staff

Big IT Projects and No Staff: How to build and activate a campus community

Presented by: Brennan Atchison and Amanda  Johnson, University of Minnesota Duluth

Challenge Accepted TurtleThe University of Minnesota Duluth made the decision to transition the majority of its websites into Drupal, a content management system (CMS). Additionally, during the process the university’s website underwent a complete redesign as well as a content overhaul. Prior to the move to Drupal, there were few technical, design, or brand standards being enforced; each department or unit took its own unique approach to web design, development, and maintenance. Tight budgets meant that there were no staff available to commit full time to the project. The historical approach of letting units manage their websites however they wished also meant a huge cultural shift for members of the campus community. In this paper, we will address how through the formation of user and technical groups, we built trust, harnessed technical expertise, addressed bugs and feature requests, created training opportunities, developed documentation, provided viable channels for feedback, and successfully united a previously fragmented campus community to successfully get the job done.

Read the paper at:

Slides available at:


This presentation was a shining example of effectively using various disciplines—e.g., organizational, motivational, collaborative, and agile—and succeeding despite resource constraints. Many institutions are asked to do more with fewer resources, yet Brennan and Mandie showed us that it is possible to deliver by doing more outreach, listening to our constituents, and developing a project plan which allowed for both customer feedback and regular, iterative changes. This was a good “No Money, No Problems” case study. – Mo Nishiyama

SIGUCCS 2018 Site Visit

SIGUCCS 2018 Core CommitteeThe 2018 Committee has recently returned from visiting next year’s conference location in sunny Orlando, Florida, and we’re pleased to report that the Coronado Springs resort and conference center will be a perfect home for SIGUCCS 2018. The site includes abundant open space for both formal and informal networking, presentation rooms all in the same area, and a bright atmosphere both inside and outside – plus that gorgeous Florida weather!

The resort is located just a short bus or shuttle ride away from the multitude of Disney parks and attractions. This includes Disney Springs, which offers dining, entertainment and shopping all with no entry cost. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the nightly fireworks on your evening riding to dinner. Finally, you can use the Magical Express shuttle service to quickly and easily get between the airport and resort, all for no additional cost to you.

The conference committee is excited to begin planning activities for you to enjoy during the conference.  Start planning now and save the dates: October 7-10.

We’re also ready to start working with you to build an exciting and informative program.  Watch for our Call for Proposals – coming soon!

SIGUCCS 2017 Conference Takeaway – You Know You Want to Read This

You Know You Want to Read This: Communicating Effectively in Tech Support

Presented by: Robert H. Guissanie, Bucknell University

Robert GuissanieRob provided some tips on effective communication for an IT department which start with common sense:  be clear and concise, make sure it is relevant and meaningful, provide timely information, and do it in a respectful way. However, once the presentation started, you knew that good communication strategy was more than that…

This session reminded us to take into account the amount and types of messaging that you do. For instance, Bucknell has a message center that is used for informational messaging – for example, at the start of Cybersecurity month, an email will go out to welcome people but direct them to future weekly messages in the message center. Rob also makes use of targeted email lists so that people are not getting messages about things that are not relevant to them. He also infuses some humor into messages when appropriate so as to gain and keep people’s attention – dry and formal messaging will lead to “skim reading”.

Read more at:

Slides available at:


One main takeaway from this presentation is to remember that while we work in technology, we deal with and support people. The product that we produce (students) is more important than any other industry. Remembering this as we deal with messages in both good and bad situations is paramount to our success! – Lisa Brown